In Home, Robinson rewrites the trope of the redeemed prodigal. When Jack returns home seeking forgiveness from God, from his father, and to a lesser extent from his sister Glory, redemption is not the result. Jack mourns his transgressions but has no recourse with which to atone them. He is born with a deviant disposition and is destined, first to flee the consequences of youthful transgression, and failing that, to blind himself, through drink, to the suffering he has inflicted. Really, the story has as much the feel of a Greek tragedy as a biblical allegory. We mourn Jack as we mourn Sophocles’ Oedipus, not because we admire or feel tenderly toward him, but because we fear that we, too, will ever be trapped in the choices and patterns of life that shaped our pasts.
By rewriting the trope of the prodigal in this way, Robinson refuses to limit the human experience to an easily digestible morality tale. She resists presenting religion as a palliative, and as a result reveals the greater mystery of a faith, which can neither be adopted nor discarded by will, or by logic--a mystery that fills that void between human understanding and divine grace. Robinson is not dismissive of Jack’s efforts, or his pain. His fate does not denote a wasted or a useless life. After all, he leaves behind a son with a chance of happiness. Instead, when Jack dies Robinson allows us the freedom to mourn his moral failings, and by extension, our own. Through Jack we are asked to recognize that unhappy and irredeemable men are, after all, still men and, however anguished, still deserving of love. What more, Robinson asks, can we reasonably expect of salvation?