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Thefamilyis an intrinsicunitin thesociety.Ithelpsto shapethelifeof thechildrenthrough thepropagationof a familyculture.Theproblemsexperiencedin thesocietyare a reflectionof whatis goingon in thefamily.Familiesfacemanyproblemsthat rangefrom separationto divorce.Althoughthespousesfeeltheeffectof such an occurrence,childrenare themostaffectedpartyin theidea.Somefamiliesconsiderchildrenas blessingswhileothers takethem as a bother.Awhole range of problems that come with the different careers thatpeople choose is today affecting family responsibility.Today,peoplerarelyfindtimeto spendwith their families.Thispaperwill analyzethestateof thefamilyby comparingfour differentshortstories.
Somecareersthat peoplechoosecoupledwith their personalhobbiescan sometimesbe a stumbling blocktowards thewell-beingof a family.Peoplewhoare alwaysbusymeetingdeadlines due to their tightschedulesmay not spendqualitytimewith their spousesandchildren.Youngcouplesin suchendeavorsmay not be willingto settledown with children,andtheyhavea tendencyof postponingchildbirthuntil lateryearswhentheyare almostenteringmenopause.
Inhis account,"Thanksgiving in Mongolia", Levy detailstheaccountof an adventurouswomanwhohas delayedforsolongwithout settlingtogetherwith her spouse.Althoughshehas a goodcareer,shebelievesthatallshewantsis to movearoundtheworldto getnewexperiences.Shedoes the mistakewhensheis five monthspregnant.Levywrites,"But as my friends,one after another,madethejourneyfrom a youngwomanto mother,itglaredat me thatI hadnot(Levy6).”
Shewaitsuntil sheis thirty-eight anddecidesto getpregnant,not fortheloveof becominga mother,butto experiencea newfeeling.Whensheis inMongolia, sheexperiencessomepainat work,andunfortunately,suffers a miscarriage.Sheprematurelydeliversin her motel.Levyillustrates,"Ifeltan unholy stormmovethrough my body,andafter thatthere is a brieflapsein my recollection,eitherI blacked out from thepainorI haveblottedout thememory.Thenthere wasanotherpersonon thefloorin frontof me, movinghis armsandlegs,alive.I heardmyselfsayaloud,"This can`t be good."Nevertheless,itlookedawesome.My babywasas prettyas a seashell (Levy7).”
Thewayspousesreceivethebirthof a childin thefamilyalsovaries.Forsome,itis an experienceof joywhileothers considerita momentof darkness.Itallboilsdown to thepreparationstheyhadforparentalresponsibilityandsettlingdown to raisea family.Itcould be disappointingiftheexpectations onehaddonot materialize.Unfulfilled expectations are as a resultfailureto seekadvicefrom therightpeople.Childbearing becomesan adventuroustripby somepeoplewhoin theendbecomedisappointed.Levygivesus a goodexamplein his story.Thecharacterquotes,"But thetruthis theten ortwenty minutesI wassomebody`smotherwereblack magic.There is noadventureI would tradethem forthere is noplaceI would ratherhaveseen.Sometimes,whenI thinkabout it,Istillfeela darkhurtfrom someprimal partof myself(Levy 12).”
Achild’s deathin a familyis not a desirable experience, especiallyforthemother.Itistraumatic, andtheemotions can linger for alongtime.Manyfamiliesopt to havetheir liveswithout interruptionsfortheir limelightyears.Anypersonwhocomesto staylongerthan expectedmay not be welcomein thefamily.Nonetheless,both menandwomenhavediversemeansof showingtheir feelingstowards visitorswhocomeat such a time(Cameron39).
Menwill outrightly refusewhilewomenwill tendto be gentle,yetwith hiddenremorse.PeterCameron brings up the manifestation of this feelingin his work,"After theflood."Mr. andMrs. Roberts havethesamefeelingstowards thepeoplewhomovein to staywith them. However,Mrs. Roberts is more hospitable compared to her husband. Mrs.Roberts asserts,"But nevertheless,eventhoughwemeantnoharmandactuallydidsomegood,I havecometo feelguiltyabout our attitudetoward thosefolkwholivedin thefloodzone,andI supposeitis one of thereasonsI didn`tresistthearrivalof theDjukanovics (Cameron40)."Mr. Roberts could not evenfacethevisitors,andhespendsall his timein theworkshop.
Divorceandseparationare someof thegreatestconcernstodaythat affectmanyfamilies.Eitherpeopleliveawayfrom eachother,ortheylegallybreakup. Thenotablethingis thatithappenstoboth the young and theold.During old age, many couples are no longer interested in each other’scompany. Thecordthat bringspeopletogetherbecomesveryweak.Childrensuffergreatlyout of this.In his story,"Long Tom Lookout," Nicole Cullen paintsa pictureof a troubledfamilythat has literaryseparatedin thepretextof beingheldup in their differentoccupation(Cullen51).
Thechildin thisstoryhas noonewhohas genuineconcerntowards him, as Cullen putsit,"Lauren placesher handon theboy`sbackto knowhe`sbreathing,andshethinkswhatshe`sbeenthinkingsincetheyleftTexas thatshehadnointentionof beinghis mother.Theboy`snameis Jonah, buther husbandcallshim The Boy. Hecallshis affairwith theboy`smotherThe Mistake. Forfive years,theboywasnomorethan a dollaramountpaidin childsupporteachmonth(Cullen52)." Thechild`sfatheris away,andthestepmother is not readyto takecareof theboy.Thetwo spousesstayforsolongwithout communicatingto eachother,andtheir relationshiphas crumbled.Thehusbandis not readyto comehome,andtheonlyreasonthewifetriesto contacthim is becauseshewantsto getridof thechild.Jonah, thenameof thechild,getslostone daywithout a trace(Cullen 52).
Aloomingdivorceresultsin deviantbehaviorin childrenespeciallyin school,andeducatorsobservethegrowingtrend.Withoutpeacein afamily,childrenwill reflectthiswhentheyrelateto others. In his story,"Hover," Freudenberger givesan accountof a relationshipthat is headingtowards divorce.Theonlyfactorthat bringsthem togetheris their child.Teachershadobserveda differentkindof behaviorin thechildandattributedthisto familyproblems,an allegationthattheparentsquicklydismiss. Aconversationbetween parentsandtheteacherprovesthis.“"It`sOK," Drew andI saidat thesametime.We`veansweredeveryquestionenoughtimesthatit`salmosta reliefto fieldthem. "You didn`thaveanykindoftragedyin your family?"I wasconfused,andI lookedat Drew. Of course,theyknewabout thetragedyalready."Tragedy? Of coursenot," Drew said(Freudenberger 96).”
Familyseparationaffectsmenandwomendifferently.Somepartiesfeelas iftheir caseis minorbecausetheyviewthereasonsbehind their divorceas verysubtlecomparedto thoseof otherpeople.In the story,Freudenberger givesus an exampleof such a womanwhofeelsthatdivorcewould not havetakenplaceonlyto thereproachof her spouse.“I cannot helpfeelingthatotherpeoplehadbetterreasonsfortheir breakups than wedid.(This characteristicof me, Drew would say,thewayI am alwayscomparing(Freudenberger 50).” Spouses tend to compare their lives withtheirs even to the causes of their divorce. It is not an advisableapproach because every family has its problems. Drew, a character inFreudenberger’s story, “Hover” provides a valid reason whycouples should not compare themselves with others. He says, "Howcan yoube happyifyouconstantlymeasureyour lifeagainst thelivesof others? Andnot evenexamining,"hewould say."Inventing . . . fictionalizing!Howcan youknowwhatanyone else`slifeis like (Freudenberger 50)?" Theconversationprovesthatpeopledecideto divorcebecauseof reasonsonlyunderstoodbetterthem andby anyotherperson.
Afamily`swayof livingis uniqueto everysingleunit.In a culturalone culturalcontext,thevaluegivento childrenandthewaytheyare disciplinedvariesfrom one cultureto another.Somepeoplecannot figureout theideaof physicallydiscipliningtheir childrenwhileothers doitregularly.An exampleof thissituationis presentin "After theflood."Djukanovic andRoberts familiescertainlycomefrom differentcultures.TheRoberts` culturedoesnot takedelightin thephysicaldiscipliningof children.Theyare theexactoppositeof theDjukanovics whodisciplinetheir childevenforsmallmistakes.Mrs. Roberts wasamazed at thewayDjukanovics smacksher daughterfora smashing a toywhileshehadneverlaida fingeron her daughter."Thatwasfinewith me, I hadnouseforit,of course,butMrs. Djukanovic wasterriblyupsetabout itandactuallysmackedWanda, which shockedandupsetme althoughI knowinsomeculturesit`sperfectlyallrightforparentsto hittheir children.(I neverlaida fingeron Alice) (Cameron 48).”
Theirdifferencein cultureexplainswhytheyhavedifferentwaysof doingthings.Inconclusion,thefour storiesare goodexamplesof thevariousproblemsthat familiesfaceandhowspousesdecideto solvethem out. Adominantbehaviorhas manifesteditself in thefour accountsof separationanddivorce.Thestorieshaveclearlyshownhowchildrensufferfrom separationbecausetheyare caughtup in themiddle.In fact,theprimaryreasonthat holdsmanypeopletogetheris their children.Theissueof parentalresponsibilityhas alsobeenhighlightedwherebychildrenwithout responsibleparentsare leftin thehandsof fate.Thesereadingsare recommendable forthosewillingto knowmoreabout familyissues.
Cameron,Peter."AfterThe Flood."TheBest American Short Stories. Haughton Mifflin Harcourt: Boston, 2014.
Cullen,Nicole."LongTom Outlook."TheBest American Short Stories. Haughton Mifflin Harcourt: Boston, 2014.
Freudenberger,Nell. "Hover" The Best American Short Stories.Haughton Mifflin Harcourt:Boston. 2014.
Levy,Ariel. Thanksgivingin Mongolia.Adventureandheartbreak at theedgeoftheearth.TheNew Yorker 18th November 2013: 2013 issue.