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This article examines Marilynne Robinson's novel Gilead in dialogue with her speculative reflection upon Dietrich Bonhoeffer's theology to read the novel as a radically ambivalent text which exposes an aporia at the core of the Reverend Ames's Christian ethics. This ambivalence appears in the way that Ames's version of his own family history works assiduously to expiate the perceived violence done to ethics by his grandfather's support for abolitionist violence while remaining haunted by thedoi:10.1017/s0021875816000633 fatcat:gpeetb5ckfbbxbdwul26biepce