The Bible And Housekeeping By Marilynne Robinson

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The Bible and Housekeeping The book of Genesis in the Bible presents many important people, events, and ideas that have been often been referenced to in literature and other arts. The novel Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson, published in 1980 is considered to be one of the most prominent books of the recent era. The novel is a generational saga that is told from the point of view of Ruthie, who along with her sister Lucille is abandoned at her grandmother’s house after their mother kills herself. The novel explores abandonment, society, and transience. The story takes place in a small town in Idaho during the 1950s, and contrary to the normal male dominated society, Robinson presents a story that revolves around several generations of women, a direct contrast in what was considered the norm in America at that time. Robinson chooses to illustrate many biblical allusions that demonstrate female subjectivity which enhance the novel’s larger feminist theme. In Genesis both Lot’s wife and Noah’s wife are women that are overshadowed by their husbands, so much so that they aren’t even given a name. Robinson uses allusions of both of these women to demonstrate female subjectivity to further the feminist theme, but also reframes the original biblical stories seen in the book of Genesis by giving the women characteristics which create sympathy for them, but also perverts the original stories. The image of Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt because she looked back is a well-known image from Genesis. In Genesis chapter nineteen, we get the story of Lot and his family and their rescue from Sodom from God. Verse 26 explains, “Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt,” which is disobeying God’s directions wh... ... middle of paper ... ...nderstanding its stories it enhances the works they are referenced in. In Genesis, the reader see the stories of Lot and Noah but don’t get any insight into their wives. Through closer examination of the allusions of Lot’s wife and Noah’s wife from the novel Housekeeping, readers are able to see another side of these women. The allusions are used to greater enhance the novel’s theme of critiquing a male dominated society, because we see in these Bible stories that these women were in the shadows of important men. However, they distort the original Bible stories by giving the women a voice with new characteristics and motivations for their actions that alter the initial message. In the novel, although there are many more biblical allusions, there are none of the stronger women from the Bible like Rahab or Deborah, which downplays the importance of women in the Bible.

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