Gilead | Study Guide

Marilynne Robinson

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Gilead | Section 9 | Summary



Jack comes by to visit again. John attempts to be more polite to him, and Jack looks at him like "he knows it is a performance and he's amused by it." John therefore abandons his performance and excuses himself. John decides it is best to spend some time praying about what to do about his attitude toward Jack.


When Jack comes by, he comes bearing fruit. This is a biblical metaphor for producing good deeds. And, John is aware Jack is doing "a lot of work" on the Boughton property with Glory. It is perhaps Jack's attempt at penance for his misdeeds earlier in his life. Maybe this attempt softens John a bit to Jack, because at least John tries to "be a little more cordial" than he has been. Of course, the resentment between the two is long simmering, and both are suspicious of the other's motives. John believes Jack is mocking him and purposely trying to make him "uncomfortable," which undoes any progress thus far.

John's spirituality means prayer is his primary approach to addressing a problem. This section, like Section 6, is only a page long (and yet dense and meaningful), and this brevity is meant to highlight John's reliance on God for his wisdom. This unwavering faith is one of the pillars of John's character.

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