Gilead Essay

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Monahan has a Ph.D. in English and operates an editing service, The Inkwell Works. In this essay, Monahan examines the healing role journal writing plays in the life of John Ames, the narrator of Marilynne Robinson's Gilead.

In Gilead (2004), the central action, it might be argued, is the habitual daily writing Reverend John Ames does during what he anticipates will be his final year. Robinson's protagonist is a man writing a journal, a “letter” to the “grown man” his son will be. At the outset his purpose in writing this journal is clear: John Ames is dying of heart disease, and he wants to leave a message for his little boy to read when he grows up. The novel is that message, a year-long journal or extended letter. On the surface, this task is transparent: Ames, who has written fifty sermons a year for forty-five years, sets...

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This section contains 3,324 words
(approx. 9 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Gilead Study Guide
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