Experience Beyond Need

Novelist Marilynne Robinson has a striking ability to draw out deep feelings and thoughts using plain words. In the reading “Experience Beyond Need” (CUA Primer, 22–23), from her novel Gilead, the narrator, named Ames, describes a time when he was twelve years old and he went with his father to bury his father’s father. Why do you think that the experience that Ames describes after the burial of his grandfather means so much to him? Have you ever had an experience like this?

Photo: “fields sky” by David DeHetre licensed under CC BY 2.0.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Jaesen Evangelista says:

    There was a very special line in the excerpt that stood out to me: “You know, everyone in Kansas saw the same thing we saw.” And Ames’ response was so innocent. What he imagined was that the miracle he witnessed of the moon, the sun, the lights, and the spirit of his deceased grandfather was something that everyone experienced, not just him. Though he was mistaken, his thoughts are not without significance. He felt something far beyond what his father meant to explain (which was that the miracle they saw was not special). I think Ames actually touches on something spiritual and incomprehensible and universal. He comes into contact with the beauty of creation and the beauty of life all in one. He sees all of this, not knowing exactly what he is experiencing, and feels exuberant joy. I’m not sure how to explain what the scenery felt or represented because I, myself, am a lot like Ames. But, I can definitely relate to Ames that what he witnesses is really something that, “you know, everyone in Kansas saw.”

  2. Diego Amaya says:

    His grandfathers burial means so much to him because he had a beautiful moment with his father seeing the sun and moon aligned themselves. I’ve never really had a experience like that but before my grandfather past away. One day in El Salvador I went on a walk with him around the town and we sat down on a bench in the towns circle. We looked around at people and he started to tell me about the towns history. I would never forget that day.

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