A family relation is often a central focus in the works of literature. Many writers place significance on the dynamics within relationships to present a complex and provocative models of interactions. The presentation of family relations in the novels “A Streetcar Named Desire” by Tennessee Williams, “Revelation” by Flannery O'Connor, “He” by Katherine Anne Porter and “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison help drive the plot along. The paper compares and contrast different forms of the presentation of family relations in the four novels.
The novel by Tennessee Williams “A Streetcar Named Desire” expresses Williams’ protagonist ideas in romantic family relations through Blanche. The theme Fantasy of inability to overcome reality is portrayed through Blanche. He explains to Mitch that she fibs because she is unable to accept that fate has dealt her (Williams, 10). She lies to herself and others to make life appear as it should be than as it is to her. It is also eminent that the relationship between Blanche and Stanley is that of a straggle between reality and appearances. On the other hand, “Revelation” by Flannery O'Connor presents the main character Mary Grace as a symbol of grace. There is a difference in relation between Christianity and world view in the story. This relation is depicted by two different characters i.e. Grace and Turpin. Mrs. Turpin is self absorbed nature and instead of feeling concerned for the sick, she focuses on actions of the sick in relation to her. The relationship is further enhanced by the symbols of the sun and sky. They represent the stages of Mrs. Turpin’s understanding and acceptance of the revelation.
The “He” by Katherine Anne Porter begins with a brief description of poverty in which Whipple lives in. He and his wife have developed ways in which they are dealing with their lack of material wealth. He first of all leans on the pessimistic side of life while beaming his fate into seeing no way out of the poverty. His wife on the other hand takes “what was sent and calling it good” when in company or when within neighbors earshot (Porter, 15). On the contrary, the “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison begins with a deceptive representation in chapter two. The deceptive “beautiful college” is used as Ellison throws negative images in order to upset the balance of the story and shadow the foreboding with a dark sense (Ellison, 45). He uses an ironic tone in his mention of the path that turns off to the asylum where “boys in the know” were given special treatment by gay nurses. The irony stresses the relationship to the point that he (Ellison) was blinded in his early days in college. The invisible man comments on the hypocrisy embedded in Norton from the beginning where he mentions that he has held the white man’s burden for long.
William in his novel expresses family relations exploring the boundary between interior and exterior. The Relationship between Sex and Death helps him highlight further the idea of family relations. Blanche fears death which manifest in her fears of lost of beauty and aging. Her sexual history is related to the cause of her downfall. Her lifelong pursuit of sexual desires led to her eviction from Belle Reve (Williams, 17). Blanche knows that sex has lead to death of others. She is haunted by the ancestors and her husband’s suicide which was a result of her refusal of his homosexuality. On the other hand, O’Connor only compares people to animals. This is evident through Mary Grace when she called Mrs. Turnip a wart hog. The abuse represented in this relationship weighs heavily on Mrs. Turnip’s mind that makes her match to the pig parlor to confront God’s revelation in front of the animals to which she was compared (O'Connor, 60). The name calling makes her spray the hogs violently as if to wash her own sins. She fails to see that everybody is equal before God.
As the writers depict family relations differently, Ellison depicts horn as a representation of a lesson to the narrator which he still refuses to hear. His car represented a means by which the narrator hoped to move closer to college heritage but which further plunged him towards disaster within his community. Ellison created a displaced and lost character who appeared not to be the most knowledgeable on how the narrator should spend his life, but one with a long line of pretence. His character Trueblood, mentions that the white community has been surprisingly supportive after the incest (Ellison, 60). His name is symbolic because he is true to his blood unlike other characters. His nature makes the white community guilt into paying off the state what they had created. This shames the black community that does not recognize anything that could work against their success.
A different representation of family relations is eminent in Porter’s “He”. She moulds Mrs. Whipple in a manner that she appears to be in the good graces of life even when she suffers to do so (Porter, 20). Death also affects family relations in that when Ben was driving to the boarding house, he had influenza and came down with pneumonia and eventually dies. As he was dying he remembers the death of Grover his twin in St. Luis many years before. He was rigid in allowing his sister to be beside her but death allowed her to be near him. Revelation” by Flannery O'Connor depicts another idea of family relation. Racism widens family relations as depicted by Mrs. Turpin’s view of the world around her. She is proud of being kind to the black farmhands but considers them idiots. Mrs. Turpin puts black people “on the bottom of the heap” but on the same level as the white-trash people (O'Connor, 67). She complains that the blacks no longer want to pick cotton because they are “up there with the white trash.” There is a comment by a white-trash woman that all the black people should be sent back to Africa. Finally in the “Invisible man” death brings together family ties i.e. when a character dies in the novel, his life becomes more significant to the remaining characters than when they were alive. The characters will focus more on what the dead characters represent than on what they actually did on earth.
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