More Anti-Feminism, or, Thank God It’s Short



CURRENT BOOK:  Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

Okay, Fifty Shades I could understand.  But this?

Gilead is narrated by a Christian pastor who is anticipating his death and is trying to make a record of his wisdom to pass along his wisdom to his young son after he is gone.  (The narrator was on the older side when his son was born and has declining health due to a heart condition).  A nice thought, right?

The narrator is almost fully consumed by his duties as a pastor and the relationships between the men in his family and his congregation.  Not to mention his relationship with God.  The List praises the book as “a moving consideration of the role of religion and spirituality within each of us.”  Consider me un-moved.

If The List is supposed to have a feminist perspective, there was hardly anything about women in this novel at all.  The narrator makes a passing mention of the circumstances under which he met and married his wife, and then doesn’t talk much about her except as a figure in the background until a few brief pages in the middle wherein he expresses admiration, empathy, and compassion for her.  But that’s about it.  Seems like it’s basically the kind of “good little housewife” situation that Betty Friedan frowned upon.  And considering the novel is set in the American heartland during the 1950’s, I suppose that would be about right.  But still.  This novel being written by a female author, it is surprising that women have such a limited place within it.

Sure, the narrator has a lot to say about God.  And I guess it’s understandable with him being a pastor and all, but as a reader who wants to be entertained or at least enlightened it seems like God is ALL the narrator thinks about.  I skimmed through it and didn’t feel it was anything I could relate to.  I’m just too agnostic for it I guess, and too disillusioned with organized religion.  A devout Christian might think this novel was the greatest thing ever.  For me, it was just another one to check off of The List.


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