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Home (Robinson) Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 51 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Home (Robinson).
This section contains 1,700 words
(approx. 5 pages at 400 words per page)
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Home (Robinson) Summary & Study Guide Description

Home (Robinson) Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Home (Robinson) by Marilynne Robinson.

Home is a novel written by a Pulitzer Prize winning author, Marilynne Robinson. When the story opens, a middle aged woman named Glory has returned to her home town to take care of her aging father, the Reverend Robert Boughton. Glory, a former middle school English teacher, has determined that as the only unmarried child of eight children it is her duty to come home.

Most of the family members live within a day's drive of their childhood home; however, Jack, the black sheep of the family, has been gone far away for twenty years. No one has heard from him during all that time. Glory thinks of Jack as she wanders through the old home once again. As a preacher's son, Jack had been allowed to get by with many things for which other boys would have suffered the consequences. Glory wonders if the entire town of Gilead had not done him a disservice.

The Boughton farm is located outside of town. It is bordered on one side by Ames and his new wife and family. Ames is a longtime friend and fellow pastor. On the other side of the farmstead is a family that the Boughtons called the Trotskys, though that is not their real name. The Trotskys make a point, as Glory recalls, of reminding both preachers that they are agnostic Russians. To allow a large tract of land to lie fallow is a sin in their book. Glory remembers a long running argument between her father and Mr. Trotsky who kept claiming that the field behind the Boughton house belonged to him. Despite papers to prove otherwise, Mr. Trotsky had continued to farm it. Deciding that keeping the peace is preferable to war, her father had allowed him to continue to think it was his.

Reverend Boughton is very old, and his health is declining. He sleeps most of the time and is often confused with what day of the week or time of day it is. Though his wife has been long dead, having died a dozen years previously, he sometimes believes that she is still alive. Various historical clues set the story's time period in the late fifties. For example, there are mostly radio programs because televisions are new appliances that not everyone owns Quite a few people have a telephone; but, an operator assists in making a call. Civil unrest is in the news constantly.

Glory's father receives a letter from Jack, the long lost son. The Reverend tells Glory that Jack wants to come and visit, if it is convenient. The Reverend immediately sends out a letter with a check in it to help Jack pay for traveling expenses. Glory goes to the grocery and purchases all of Jack's favorite foods and plans a great welcome home dinner. Jack doesn't show up on schedule. It is four days past his arrival time when he calls on the phone to say that he will be there the next day. It is a week later when he finally shows up, and Glory is very angry with him. She's angry because he has gotten the Reverend's hopes up for at least three weeks. She was also afraid that Jack might never show up and would further cause their father's decline. She welcomes him to the house, anyway, and they have a nice dinner.

The reason that Jack left home so many years before was that he had gotten a local girl pregnant. Not wanting to bring any further shame on anyone, he just disappeared. Glory realizes that she has secrets of her own that are just as dark. For years she told her family that she had a fiance, but she didn't. She had a long term boyfriend, who appeared with her at family functions. In the end, she learned he was married and using her for her money. Ashamed, she never told anyone about it.

Jack tells Glory that he would like to stay around for a bit longer, if everyone is willing. Everyone agrees, and a routine sets in. Jack helps to fix up the many neglected things around the place, including an old DeSoto car in the barn. He goes to visit with Ames, whom he's named after, but Ames seems to still be holding a grudge against Jack for all of the trouble he put his family through. While he's gone, a phone call comes for Jack from a woman who doesn't identify herself. When Glory tells Jack about the call, he tells her that the woman's name is Della. The relationship between him and Della had not worked out.

Glory hears that there have been some burglaries around town. Jack says that when he went into town that people were looking at him and staring, as if he were the culprit. Glory tells him that it is nonsense, but she also wonders. Later, she orders a television set for them to enjoy at the house. It is a luxury that they both feel their father deserves. When their father falls asleep, Jack tells Glory that he has a drinking problem and asks for her help in keeping sober. Jack says that he's been sober for many months, but that lately he's been feeling the urge to go back to his old ways. Glory vows to help him.

Jack spends his time reading books to his father, as well as helping Glory take care of him. He also begins to grow a garden and cleans out many of the overgrown shrubs around the house. He begins playing games of catch with some of the neighbor's boys, and for once in many years, Jack believes that maybe he can start over and make a clean start in Gilead. Jack learns that the baby he had fathered died shortly after it was born. Jack had not known about the baby's death until now, and the news saddens him.

Jack tells his father that when he was living in St. Louis he used to play piano for a church there. This makes his father very happy to know that he continued to attend church. However, his father is less enthused when he learns that it was a black church. His father has very definite ideas about the 'mixing' of races. Jack decides that the time has come for him to attempt attending his childhood church. He arranges for Glory to stay home with their father, and he goes by himself. However, he returns shortly after he leaves, saying that he's just not ready, yet.

The next week he attempts to go to church and stays through most of the sermon. But, when Glory goes looking for him in the barn, she finds him sitting in the car, and he's drunk. He confesses to her that Ames' sermon seemed to be pointed at him. It dealt with the sins of the father resting on the children, and all he could think of was the death of the child he had fathered with Annie. He tells Glory that he has many bottles of alcohol stashed around the barn. She finds all of them and dumps them for him.

In the mail the next day there are four letters marked 'return to sender.' They are letters that Jack has written to Della in St. Louis. Glory argues that maybe he should send the letter through a mutual friend because it might not be Della who sent the letters back. Jack has hope and does as she suggests. He also goes to have another talk with Ames, but it goes badly. The next morning, when Glory can't find him, she goes to the barn and finds that Jack has tried to kill himself by sitting in the car after plugging the tailpipe. He's only partially ill from the carbon monoxide, and she pulls him out of the barn and cleans him up.

Teddy, one of the Reverend's other children, comes to visit the next day. He is now a doctor, and he drops in from time to time to check on the Reverend's health. He Teddy is surprised to see Jack there. Glory is equally surprised when she learns that Teddy had spent much time and effort tracking Jack down after he had left years ago. When Teddy located Jack in St. Louis, Jack had told him to leave him alone and not to come back. Teddy had given him some money and stayed away for many years. After examining their father, Teddy tells both Glory and Jack that he doesn't have much longer to live. It is time to call in the family, he says. Jack tells Glory that he doesn't want to be there when all of the other kids arrive. If he doesn't hear from Della in another week or so, he will leave for good. Glory argues with him, but it does no good.

Jack goes to check on their father the next day, and the Reverend doesn't seem to recognize him or anyone else. Jack decides that it is for the best if he just leaves. He calls Teddy and tells him about the situation. Glory argues that he needs to wait for a letter from Della. Jack says that she doesn't understand anything and that even if a letter came from Della that it wouldn't change anything.

Jack leaves, and Teddy arrives. Then, some unexpected guests arrive, too. Two black women with a young boy pull into the driveway asking for Jack. Glory tells him that they've just missed him and asks if the woman's name is Della. She says that it is and introduces Glory to her son, Robert. Glory knows that this must be Jack's son. Glory understands why Jack has said that they can't be together and that it wouldn't matter if she wanted him back or not. Glory knows that with the racial unrest at the time that their marriage would never have been recognized. She feels terrible for both of them. They leave.

The Reverend dies, and Glory decides that she will stay on in the house, making as few changes as she can so that everyone's childhood memories are still preserved.

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