Gilead | Study Guide

Marilynne Robinson

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Study Guide
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Gilead | Characters

Character Description
John Ames John Ames is an old minister with a heart condition who decides to write a letter to his young son before he dies. Read More
Jack Boughton John Ames "Jack" Boughton is the beloved son of John's best friend Robert Boughton, and is named after John. John refers to him as "young Boughton" or, more commonly, by his nickname Jack. Read More
Robert Boughton Boughton is John's oldest friend and a minister in Gilead. John often refers to him as "old Boughton." Read More
Lila Ames Lila Ames is John's second wife and the mother of his son. She is 41 years old, much younger than he is. Read More
Angeline Ames Angeline Ames was John's first daughter, who died shortly after birth. Though John and Louisa had planned to name her Rebecca, Boughton baptized her with the name Angeline.
Deacon Ames John's six-year-old son is never named in the novel, but John says the people at church call him Deacon. John's son is a serious boy who likes to play with the cat.
Edward Ames Edward Ames is John's brother, who went to Germany to study and came back an atheist. Though this broke his father's heart, John realizes their father probably loved Edward more.
Grandfather John Ames Grandfather John Ames was a minister. He was prone to visions, one of which prompted him to join the abolitionist "Free Soiler" movement in Kansas prior to the American Civil War.
John Ames Sr. Like his father and his son John, John Ames Sr. was a minister. While he was alive, he vehemently opposed war, which put him at odds with his father. John Ames takes over his father's pulpit when his parents go south due to Martha Ames's poor health.
Louisa Ames Louisa Ames was John's childhood sweetheart whom he married in his early youth. She died in childbirth.
Margaret Todd Ames Margaret Todd Ames was John's grandmother. She was ill with cancer.
Martha Turner Ames Martha Turner Ames was John's mother. Her health issues were the stated reason why she and John's father moved away from Gilead.
Baby Boughton Baby Boughton is the unnamed daughter Jack abandoned. She died at three years old due to a cut on her foot that got infected.
Glory Boughton Glory Boughton is Robert Boughton's daughter and Jack's sister. She is the dutiful daughter who came back to take care of her father after her divorce.
Della Della is Jack's "wife" back in St. Louis. Because she is black and her father disapproves of Jack, she and Jack are not actually married but consider themselves so in the eyes of God.
Della's father Della's father is a minister. He does not approve of his daughter's relationship with Jack.
Robert Robert is Jack and Della's son. Like John's son, he is six years old.
Tobias Schmidt Tobias Schmidt is a friend of John's son. He comes over to play with John's son sometimes.
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