Study Guide

Gilead Spirituality

By Marilynne Robinson

Spirituality

Gilead is something of a miracle: a successful novel that is also a successful work about spirituality. It's tough to pull that off—spiritual reflections can easily distract from plot, or they can become trite, pedantic, and didactic. Robinson gets around this problem partly because she uses the epistolary form. Her novel is a long letter by a Christian preacher to his son, and it reads almost like a diary entry. Given this format, it's natural that our narrator gets up front and personal with his thoughts on spirituality. After all, this is his life, and he's trying to pass on his wisdom to the son he will soon be leaving.

Questions About Spirituality

  1. What does Ames mean when he says there are many ways to live a good life?
  2. What qualifies as miraculous to Ames?
  3. What is sacredness for Ames? What does it mean?
  4. Why does Ames not fear for his atheist brother's soul?

Chew on This

Ames is okay with doubts.

Ames is not okay with doubts

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