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Essay on Family and Identity on the Example of Short Stories

4 pages
891 words
Carnegie Mellon University
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Often, the family is defined as the basic unit of society. In this essence, families can break or make societies based on the impact it has on its members. Children grow up looking up to older members of the family. They develop a sense of identity, security, and confidence based on what they see and experience in their families. The behaviors, attitudes, and personalities of children are shaped by their immediate surrounding which is the family. As they grow older, children exhibit behaviors that are acceptable in their families. It's commonly said that most family has some hidden skeletons in the closet. These skeletons are the deeply kept secrets that have the potential of breaking up families should they be allowed to. Despite the skeletons most families may have, the love recipe will always work towards keeping families together. Children learn based on what they see, hear and experience. It shapes how they perceive things and relate to other people.

In the short story The Garden Party, the author introduces a family that is isolated from their community. The Sheridan children identify themselves with the upper class and are detached from the realities around them. Laurie and Jose are detached from the poverty around them. It's evident that they take closely after their mother Mrs. Sheridan who doesn't seem to care about the unfortunate death of Mr. Scott. She confidently says to Laura" People like that don't need our sympathy" in response to Laura's request that they cancel the party because of the death (Mansfield 7). Jose later admonishes Laura's pleas for the cancellation of the party stating "You won't bring a drunken man to life by being sentimental (Mansfield 12). The insensitivity of Mrs. Sheridan and her children towards people who are not of their class clearly indicates that the children have attached their identity to their social class and in so doing, assumed a superiority complex in relation to the poor members of the society.

The short story The Storm is an indication of a false family identity. Bibi, the young child, has thinks that his parents love each other and that his mother is, at the time of the storm, worried about them. From the outside, the family looks like a perfect one- father, mother, and son who love each other. However, this is just the external perception of it. Calixta, Bibi's mother, takes advantage of his husband and son's absence to get into a heated sexual encounter with an ex-lover, Aldee (Chopin and Seyersted 27). From the manner in which the story ends, it's evident that the sexual encounter is the beginning of an affair that might last long time.

Families can sometimes assume an identity that is far from their realities. While these identities can prevent major storms, they stand a chance of being unmasked to reveal the true identity of such families. As aforementioned, some families have hidden skeletons in their closets. These skeletons can be infidelity like in the case of Bibi's mother and Aldee. Such skeletons have the capacity of breaking down families ones they come out of the closets.

Love is a fundamental part of family unions. The lack of love makes the idea of family irrelevant. The love in families gives room for sacrifice, compromise, and honesty. The Gift of the Magi is an example of a family that loves each other unconditionally. Della and Jim are the perfect example of a family. Della and Jim both go out of their way to lose something they hold dear and get each other Christmas gifts. Della sells something that is both precious to her and Jim; her hair. Jim, on the other hand, sells his precious watch to get Della a beautiful pair of comb, perfect for her hair. From these two, the family is identified with unconditional and secure love. Della's fears of not being attractive to her husband are canceled when Jim says, Nothing like a haircut could make me love you any less (Henry, 05). Della and Jim are committed to creating an environment that is full of love and transparency. Each of them aspires to make the other happy. Jim takes seriously his responsibility to take care of his family. Despite being only twenty-two, He has a level of responsibility that is uncommon amongst 22 years old men.

In conclusion, the role of the family in shaping peoples identities and the society at large cannot be emphasized enough. From the family unit, comes out people who are either ready or not to tackle the world and interact with other people. Children' attach a lot of prominence to their families. They identify with their families and carry on what they are taught in their families- good or bad. Children can identify with their familys social class, stability, strong connections and tolerance to diversity. This identification goes a long way in making the young men and women in the society. Strong, stable families allow couples and children to identify with positive images of the family, something that will help them perceive the world positively and interact with other people positively.


Works Cited

Chopin, Kate, and Per Seyersted. The Complete Works of Kate Chopin. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2006. Print.

Henry, O. Gift of the Magi. [S.L.]: North-South Books, 2017. Print.

Mansfield, Katherine. Garden Party, The. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1922. Print.


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