Nathan's version of the sin is most blatant and easiest to understand. He hides behind a simplistic and self-serving worldview, and refuses to believe in the messiness and injustices of reality. He refuses to see or understand anything that counters his unwavering beliefs, and this includes the human beings with whom he shares a household. Nathan is beyond redemption. His blindness is so complete that he is incapable of ever recognizing his mistake.
Rachel also fails to be redeemed, and for a similar reason. She is so blinded by herself and her own needs and desires that she is incapable of seeing past these. Like Nathan her way of keeping the world at a distance is to refuse to see it. Even as she matures, she continues to be a moral infant, betraying friends and using men to her advantage.
Adah's separation from the world was the most dramatic, and so her redemption is most traumatic. She separated from the world by convincing herself that she did not care about it, dragging herself "imperiously through a world that owed [her] unpayable debts" (Exodus, Adah, Emory University, 1962). She took a wry and cynical stance toward her own life, and toward everything else she observed. It is while she is fleeing the driver ants that she realizes that her attitude is a pose, and that she values her own life. From there she begins to enter into life as a participant, fighting her way into college and then medical school, and taking on the heretofore inconceivable responsibility of caring for her mother. Always astute, Adah is not completely happy with redemption, though, recognizing the pleasant advantages of the sin she left behind. For the first time, she explains, she feels afraid, because she has begun to "love the world a little and may lose it" (Exodus: Adah Price, Emory Hospital, Atlanta Christmas, 1968). By allowing herself to care, she has opened herself up to risk.
Leah's redemption also involves a terrible risk, but it is different from Adah's. Leah has always cared deeply about the world, but as a child she had clung happily to the belief in divine and absolute justice. As she puts it, "I grew up with my teeth clamped on a faith in the big white man in power—God, the President, I don't care who he is, he'd serve justice! (Exodus: Leah) Without this assurance she opens her compassionate self up to the pain of acknowledging the perpetual and unavoidable presence of injustice in the world. Her true accomplishment is that after losing her faith in divine justice she responds by devoting her life to trying to bring justice into her chosen corner of the world.
Leah claims that Orleanna alone understood redemption, and that the rest of them had to grow into it. It seems true at least that Orleanna's redemption is the only one that is nearly instantaneous, occurring in the moments after Ruth May's death. Until then, her way to avoid the messiness and complication of life was to focus narrowly on obeying her husband and doing whatever small things she could to keep her family going. She refused to reflect too much on how she could act to make things better or even on what was wrong. She asks at the beginning of "Exodus" whether her sin was one of complicity, loyalty, or stupefaction, but it seems instead that these all were only aspects of her larger sin, which was to retreat from personal responsibility. Loyalty and stupefaction were the excuses that she hid behind, and complicity was the result. Her redemption comes through her largest act, which is to lead her daughter's away from their father and toward their own redemption. Like Leah, she too tries to work for justice in her small corner of the world, marching for civil rights and collecting money to help Leah's efforts. Though the desire for justice is an important aspect of these efforts, as far as Orleanna's redemption is concerned it is their mere activeness that is significant. She is taking steps of her own in the world, trying to change things rather than standing passively by. Orleanna's other major activity, her gardening, seems to be not so much a part of her redemption as part of her psychological healing process. Earlier in the book, she refers to her daughters as plants, growing toward Nathan's light (The Judges: Orleanna Price). The plants that she now nurtures so successfully are clearly stand-ins for the children whose nurturing she failed to carry through successfully, because of her failure to stand up to Nathan. Her return to a love for nature is also a return to her earlier self, the self who was not yet cowed, brutalized, and made passive by Nathan.