Home Themes (Marilynne Robinson)

Marilynne Robinson


The Prodigal Son
The most significant theme in Home is the parable of the Prodigal Son, which has been a common theme in literature throughout time. Robert Boughton is beside himself with joy that his son Jack is coming home, even though Jack has been away for over twenty years and severely negligent in his devotion and duty to his family. Boughton has always felt a special affinity toward Jack, perhaps because he has been such a challenge and most in need of love and attention. Even though Jack has disappointed his father over and over again, Boughton forgives him and welcomes him home unconditionally. Boughton even goes so far as to suggest that he was at fault for the troubles Jack caused; he thinks that he could have done more for Jack. He asks Jack if he was a bad father. Jack seems flabbergasted at the fact that his father continues to love him, even after the pain he has caused and the sins he has committed.

Forgiveness and Redemption
Jack has received forgiveness from his father and his sister for misdeeds of his youth, and even those of the past twenty years. Boughton has learned from his many years of preaching that forgiveness must come before understanding. It is clear that both Glory and her father have chosen to forgive Jack in order to understand him better and to help him. Jack cannot forgive himself and is haunted by thoughts of being destined to spending eternity in hell. He feels unworthy and unable to escape his past and turn his life around.

The man who Jack seems to seek forgiveness from the most is Ames. Ames thinks that he has always been able to see through Jack and has always considered him a scoundrel. In Jack's opinion, acceptance and forgiveness coming from someone seemingly as objective as Ames would prove to him that redemption is possible.

Another theme in this novel is the idea of going home again. Can adult children happily return to the home of their childhood? For both Glory and Jack, it seems unlikely; they have both returned home because there was nowhere else for them to go. They both...

(The entire section is 870 words.)