Book Review on Home by Marilynne Robinson
Book Review on Home by Marilynne Robinson
Lost and alone, will Glory and Jack find themselves? Will they know what family truly means? Perhaps, all they simply need is one another and their father. Glory had been grief-stricken, being left by the man she trusted, leaving her with nothing but to return to the old house in Iowa, where her frail dad lives alone. There she was, feeling neglected and worthless while, along with her father, awaits the surprising return of her long lost brother, Jack. A man with a troubled past and in an uncertain state, Jack comes home looking distressed but grateful.
He was different among his siblings ever since, enjoying the thrill of creating troubles but deep inside, he is a good and caring person. Unfortunately, guilt has eaten him. Remorse caused by the wrong decisions he had made towards his dear ones and the unwillingness to forgive himself. While the two are battling their own wars, their father is trying to make amends with them because he, too, is feeling like a failure as a dad, especially to Jack. He was not a perfect father but he tried to be, wanting what was best for his children.
The return of Jack has turned the three lives around and also Ames and his family’s. It has opened the eyes and heart of each one, addressing to their many concerns and problems, internally and within the family. Jack and Glory had both found a confidant in each other, helping cure their personal pains little by little. The simple gestures and conversations they had had built a growing bond between brother and sister. The love and care shown to each other and their dad had compensated the past sorrows they had experienced. These have made Jack and Glory whole again, being the person they once were or hoped to be.
After everything the Boughtons have gone through, all the troubles and heartaches, they were finally able to feel what happiness is through the realization that the family is the most important thing in one’s life because here, there is unconditional love and trust. Family is where they have found themselves, a place where they can truly call home. Analysis Nothing can compare to a family’s love for one another. Home is a novel about family. Robert Boughton had constant questions and worries about his children. He always seemed tired because of the sadness and guilt he feels for thinking he was a failure as a father.
He has troubled children, showing that one raised in a Christian home has no certainty that he/she will lead a Christian life. It still depends on one’s own choice and apparently, Jack has not made the right ones. He has finally come home, but was almost unrecognizable and distant. He felt undeserving and surprised for being treated so well, though have caused much trouble, because he led a hard life while away. Jack is a good person, as mentioned by Ames who is evidently most irritated at him, knowing he has committed many mistakes and trying to become a better person.
He struggles everyday with his dilemmas, feeling like a disgrace to the family, and wanting to be at peace but can’t seem to find it. Slowly, with his family’s help, he began to heal and change, but not wholly up until the end. Jack left, as suggested by his caring brother Teddy, for the sake of their ailing father. He did not want to cause anymore trouble and see his father suffer, but he did agree to come home if he needs help, realizing that families are forever. Both Teddy and Glory will be there. “But the soul finds its own home if it even has a home at all” Glory, like Jack, is lost, alone and bitter.
She carries on life with a heavy heart, as she takes care of her ailing father and a problematic brother. Feeling hopeless, she seeks attention and fortunately, her two brothers show it to her. She understands Jack, but not completely because of his secretive character and he, too, understood her, her feelings and battles. As the story progresses, there was a growing bond between brother and sister, whether it was taking care of their father or sharing thoughts and opinions, though avoiding to bring up the pressing issues amongst them.
Nevertheless, they became better individuals because of each other. The Lord truly is wonderful! The story was ordered chronologically, with the occasional recalling of the past. It started with the return of Glory and Jack until his leaving. It is equally about Glory’s and Jack’s internal conflict. The story revolves around overcoming the misfortunes each has encountered, due to appalling decisions, through the understanding and care of family. Another internal conflict was the minister, feeling like a failure as a dad.
With these being the main plots, the subplots would be the relationship of Jack and Ames, together with his family, and the coming home of Teddy. The external problem was the coming home of Jack and Glory. He seemed distracted, causing worry to his sister and father and she, left unmarried, cheated, and alone. The narration of the story is character-based since the plot unfolds through the opinions and decisions made by the characters, not from having this setting to the next.
No doubt that the story reflects religion, the uncertainty that everyone feels about it because there, as mentioned by Ames, is no absolute knowledge on what it really is. The stories among the characters parallel some characters and stories in the Bible such as David, Lazarus and The Prodigal Son. The plot evolved from the slight change in emotions. Glory began to feel needed and responsible in making her brother feel better and her father well, while Jack felt being part of the family. He saw and realized that his family would accept him for who he is and would try to do everything to make him feel welcome.
In the outside, the plot was about the coming home and duties of both Glory and Jack, visiting of Ames and Teddy, and the parting of Jack. There were a lot of themes in the story such as guilt, loneliness, resentment and religion, but the main theme was the importance of the relationship among family members. It can help make everything much better, though slowly but surely. The theme is based from the belief of Robinson and I, definitely, agree with her. Family is the basic unit of society and is the foundation of every individual.
The relationship among members should be strong in order for all of them to be stable and complete as each individual. Personal Application/Impression Home was a hard read. Though an avid reader, the book was more complicated and confusing compared to the fiction novels I normally read. The words have so much meaning and the plots were not written in a sequence, leaving me puzzled. I soon began to understand the context of the story and the meaning of those sentences that seemed too long after reading more.
Marilynne Robinson writes Home in a reminiscing manner and with thorough explanations of the actions done by the characters. I have never read a novel as defined as this, enabling me to imagine the exact happenings in the story. Home has touched me, making me appreciate my family even more. I can feel the characters’ experiences when it comes to family, their effort to become closer and trying to offer help. It takes me from keeping my own problems to sharing it with my family because I now truly realize that they would accept me for who I am and help me with my troubles.
The characters acted the way people actually do in real life and the settings were a possibility. Home truly is a beautiful and moving book, showing the importance of family. However; I did not enjoy the writing as much, though the storyline and intention of the author was wonderful. It was written with much effort, but a little too dragging and confusing. Maybe it was confusing because partly, I did not get to read the first book, Gilead, but the plots did jump from one to the other.
Note that it is a must to read Gilead first for better understanding and appreciation of Home. The developing of the story was slow and some do enjoy that type of writing but I don’t so, it was a little dragging. It was hard to turn to the next page if the ending of a page is not as interesting. Robinson built a sturdy plot but bores some readers like me. It did not have action in every page but again, it is interesting for those who love to imagine being the character himself. A well-written novel, but no work of fiction is perfect for everybody.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 1 December 2016
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