In a fascinating turn, Marion locates the operations of hermeneutics within the sons, whose conversions are prerequisite to their proper exercise of their hermeneutics. In order for the hermeneutics of the gift to interpret the gift of life and filiation correctly, the gift itself must operate as pure gift. The sons must see the gift as the gift already given in givenness without being, without causality and sufficient reason. The unconditional call of the father echoes within the son when he realizes that he has spent his inheritance and has become destitute. Dispossessed, the younger son, who has lost "the call" (150), rediscovers it as its response, which is the return from khora to the father. Forgiveness, "the gift given over again," allows the father and son, gift and gifted, to be unveiled: "the unveiling of the father as father coincides with the unveiling of the son as son" (150-51). This "complete phenomenon of the gift" dictates the operation of its hermeneutic in the hands of the son possessed of conversion, metanoia, but also a turn toward the father.
The elder son, feeling a bit disenfranchised by what seems to him to be an overreaction to his brother's return, disowns his brother by relinquishing him into filiation: "this son of yours has squandered your property" (Luke 15:30). But the father, in giving his fatherhood to his elder son ("you are always with me and everything I have is yours" [15:31]), unveils both sons' filiation, and restores brother to brother: "this brother of yours was dead and is alive again" (15:32). Hence, the gift already reduced to givenness, offers itself in love and life. The elder son's hermeneutics will receive the gift by accepting it in its givenness, or not.
Fatherhood lacks sovereignty because it cannot participate in the economy of the gift and reciprocity. This gift already reduced to givenness can make no claim on economic return, but in its unconditionality, effects a return nonetheless. The father of the two sons make no gift of property as Lear does. Lear, unable to forgive, fatally operates within the economy of an impure, inadequate gift, which he wants to give again but cannot because it is always arrested by reciprocity. Instead, the father in the parable merely passes what is already the son's to the son: "he only does him justice in an equal exchange" (149).
I wonder why Marion ignores the father with two sons in King Lear, Gloucester, and his sons Edmund and Edgar. In this famous sub-plot, the play of the natural attitude and the reduction to fatherhood provides a compelling version of a difference in filial hermeneutics.