Download Home Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Characters

Glory Boughton
This novel is told from the point of view of Glory Boughton. Through Glory’s interactions and her memories, the story of the Boughton family is revealed.

Glory was a high school English teacher and she had been in a relationship with a man for many years. Her family believed that she had been engaged to this man and that she left her job in order to marry him. Glory does not like to share personal details from her past; all we know is that this man wrote a total of 452 letters to Glory and that she gave him a large amount of money.

Glory is a pious woman and honors her father by remaining committed to her religion. She often feels like her siblings do not take her seriously. Glory is the only child in the home after Jack’s scandal and therefore feels the pain her parents experience after he disappears. She is also close to his baby girl and made efforts to become close to the mother.

Robert Boughton
Robert Boughton is the patriarch of the family and a devoted Presbyterian minister. He had spent his life committed to the church and his family. Boughton is thrilled to have his children back home and fondly recalls all the good times that have passed. Boughton struggles to maintain his happiness about Jack’s return and blames himself for Jack’s mistakes, and even questions whether or not he had been a good father to Jack. After time, his anger and disappointment in Jack come to the surface because of his inability to comprehend Jack’s motives and choices. Boughton is frustrated by the fact that although his family pored love on Jack, he was never able or willing to love them in return.

Jack Boughton
Jack has also come back to his childhood home; he has been away for over twenty years. Jack left Gilead to escape the responsibility of caring for the young girl he got pregnant and their daughter. Jack has always felt like an outsider in his family. He was different from each of his siblings and seemed to find trouble very easily. Jack's reputation in Gilead is that of a scoundrel and a petty thief. Jack is very hard on himself. He has had a tough life and feels a need to reconcile his personal conflicts with the teachings of his father and the church his family cherishes. The fact that Jack feels so undeserving and destined to failure weighs heavily on his heart. He is driven to drink and contemplates suicide to escape his own ghosts. Jack’s relationship with Della could have saved him were it not for the fact that Della was African American and her family, especially her father, could not accept him. Society would not accept their love so they were driven apart, causing Jack even more pain.

John Ames
Ames is the best friend of Robert Boughton and has known the Boughton family for many years. He is...

(The entire section is 774 words.)