Typology And Memorialization In Marilynne Robinson's Legacy

1634 Words 7 Pages
Kush Attal

WRIT 100, Section 3

Professor Gertz

28 October 2017
An Analysis of Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead
Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day.
- Isaac Waats, “Our God, Our Help in Ages Past”
The termination of breathing and physically expiring does not frighten human beings; the idea of being forgotten does. Ceasing to exist on this plane of reality leads to a frantic search for identity or a physical marker venerating an individual’s life for future generations. Exploring this idea in her Pulitzer-Prize novel Gilead through her terminally-ill protagonist, Reverend John Ames, Marilynne Robinson demonstrates one of the most effective methods to surmount
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For example, while “watching his son play in a sprinkler,” Ames remarks how “it did look like a birth or resurrection” (#). In the words of June Hadden Hobbs in her article “Burial, Baptism, and Baseball: Typology and Memorialization in Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead,” Ames “[invests his life] with meaning and [records] it in a way that memorializes [how] he wants to be remembered” (Hobbs 245). By combining a simple occasion with Biblical influence, Ames venerates the event and connects it to the “collective memory” many readers harbor. In other words, religious references cement even the most mundane activities of Ames’ daily life in the reader’s recollection. On the other hand, baseball holds the same weight in a secular fashion. Just as young John Ames was about to see Bud Fowler play with his proabolitionist grandfather, a “storm had to put an end to it…an eruption into this world of an alarming kind of nullity” (Robinson 47). Although Ames initially does not understand the “frustration for the poor old devil” and even believes Creation is “tipping its hat to him”, he later comprehends the truth; Creation mocks the efforts of his grandfather (46). Bud Fowler, first African American baseball player n the major leagues, represents the culmination of the efforts Ames’ grandfathers and other fought and died for. The simple act of rain robbing …show more content…
In the words of Lisa M. Siefker Bailey, she states in her journal article “Fraught with Fire: Race and Theology in Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead” how “a desire to control society” (Bailey 270) once permeated the town. She mentions the fire at the Negro church and “the depth of pain it caused the families” (268) as well as Ames’ attachment and sense of responsibility to the incident (270). However, this mistake only sharpens the sense of optimism that Ames and the town hold. The same fire acts as “a herald of the civil rights movement” (271) and spurs Ames’ grandfather into action while leaving Ames with a “loving transcendent vision” of the future in his note. With this in mind, Ames trusts that “the good Lord will surely someday breathe [the town] into flame again,” but not with the same destructive passion for control it once did (Robinson 246). Instead, as a “last wild gesture of love,” the town and he “will smolder away the time until the great and general incandescence” and transcend as his grandfather foretold

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