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Gilead | Section Summaries

See Section Summaries Chart

Timeline of Events

  • Early 1900s

    John's first wife and child die.

    Section 2
  • Years after that

    Jack fathers a child and abandons her, driving a wedge between him and John.

    Section 15
  • A rainy day, late 1940s

    Lila attends John's church for the first time.

    Section 2
  • Sometime later

    Now married, Lila and John are blessed with a son.

    Section 1
  • A spring morning in 1956

    John Ames begins a letter to his young son.

    Section 1
  • Sometime later

    Jack returns to Gilead.

    Section 7
  • Sometime later

    John preaches a sermon about abandoning children while Jack is in attendance.

    Section 11
  • Sometime later

    Jack asks John for his thoughts on predestination. Lila claims people can change.

    Section 14
  • Sometime later

    Jack reveals he has a wife and child in St. Louis, but he is afraid to tell his family.

    Section 21
  • Sometime later

    John gives Jack a blessing at the bus station as he prepares to leave town.

    Section 21
  • Sometime later

    Having finally forgiven Jack, John finishes his letter to his son and prepares for eternal sleep.

    Section 21

Section Summaries Chart

Section Summary
Section 1 John Ames begins a letter to his young son that he hopes he will read once he is "a grown man." An aging pastor in the t... Read More
Section 2 John watches his wife and son playing. He writes about going with his father to visit the grave of his grandfather when ... Read More
Section 3 John reflects on his period of great loneliness. He listened to a lot of baseball. He also had many conversations with p... Read More
Section 4 Lila and the son return with honeysuckle flowers from the graveyard. The son feeds John the flowers as "medicine." John ... Read More
Section 5 John tells one of his grandfather's stories about an abolitionist settlement that dug an underground tunnel so large tha... Read More
Section 6 John speaks of being at one with the night. In his lonely times, he was often up at night, and he shared this time with ... Read More
Section 7 Glory, Boughton's daughter, comes to tell John that Jack is coming home from St. Louis. John writes to his son that he m... Read More
Section 8 John spends the morning at Boughton's reminiscing about old times before returning home and eating sandwiches with Lila ... Read More
Section 9 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 perfo... Read More
Section 10 John remarks when a person must have dealings with anyone else, "it is as if a question is being put to you." God create... Read More
Section 11 John does not sleep well for a couple of nights. He watches baseball and falls asleep in his chair. Lila has Jack move s... Read More
Section 12 John addresses the sin of coveting, and claims he "never really succeeded in obeying that Commandment." He also addresse... Read More
Section 13 John wrestles with whether he should warn Lila about Jack. He prays about it, but he also engages in intellectual exerci... Read More
Section 14 John expresses he does not want to be old, or dead, or barely remembered by his son. He feels like he is being slowly le... Read More
Section 15 John finally reveals his issue with Jack. While Jack was in college, he impregnated a girl. Jack never acknowledged his ... Read More
Section 16 John claims it is not true that he never warmed to Jack, even though he wrote as much. Jack "is my son," he writes; "The... Read More
Section 17 John hears Jack laughing on the porch with Lila and their son. Jack brings gourds, and John's son sorts them with Tobias... Read More
Section 18 John sits with his family outside "enjoying the quiet" when Jack comes by. They chat and John tells Jack he is glad that... Read More
Section 19 John realizes his letter must seem like he is struggling to understand "what it is he's struggling with." He understands... Read More
Section 20 John continues to write about his courtship with Lila. She came to him to be baptized, and he taught her the doctrines o... Read More
Section 21 John finally gets Jack's story—he has a wife and child in St. Louis. Jack's situation is complicated in that his wife, D... Read More
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