The perfect American family is not as flawless as it seems. It is difficult to see what’s hidden between the four walls. We judge many families by the properties they own and not by the fundamentals of love and morality they show. For example, in the novel Ordinary People by Judith Guest, we see how the household doesn’t reflect family problems. Family members made the family incomplete by keeping everything in secret and not expressing their thoughts and feelings to one another. Another family who lacked communication and trust, which finally led to heartbreaking, was the married couple in the Chinese story Women, by Milton Rugoff. For example, the author showed Chang as a man who definitely had problems with trust and was scared of leaving his wife alone; having the fear that another man may make love with her.
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Also in the short story The Male Myth, by Paul Theroux, a man in America is expected to behave and look in a certain way in order to be respected. Both authors have a similarity in their works. In the novel Ordinary People the author reminds of the difficult role they have to play to be the considered as a perfect American family.
The short story Women is a piece of writing about a man named Chang the Third, who does not want to go to work and stays at home the whole day to play with his wife. He is scared of losing his wife and has been staying home since his marriage. This shows that Chang is so uncertain about himself, making the relationship unhealthy and provoking various disagreements with his wife. This is specifically seen when she says, “Since his marriage, my husband has never left the house. Day and night he sits around doing nothing but eat. In a short while we shall no longer have the wherewithal to live” and adds, “You really cannot stay home all day. All men must go to work” (11). Definitely, Chang and his wife are an example of a family that does not meet the standards to be flawless.
Ordinary people is Judith Guest's first novel. It was published in 1976, telling the story about a year in the life of an affluent suburban family, the Jarretts, which is trying to cope with the consequences of two traumatic events. The novel revolves around their life and tells the stories of their one-year experience. This novel well explains the traumas of parents who have faced the death of their son. The gap of communication between father and son, which is present in all American families, is well shown in the novel.
In other essay, The Male Myth, the author shows the peer pressure that men experience in the real world and how much we are expected of in order not to be criticized. The author, Paul Theroux, explains why he always disliked being a grown up man and why a man cannot cry out, explaining it by the fact that otherwise he would not be treated with the same respects as other men. In fact, he says, “Fetishists” are nearly always men; and their the most common fetish is a “woman’s shoe”. He despises this because it is unbelievable for a man to have sexual obsession, and this just another awful thing about being a man. Both the example of Chang and the idea of Paul Theroux show how two different characters are trying to paint a pretty picture of the perfect American Family.
When I think of an American family, I consider it to be simple and happy, the one that is usually portrayed in novels when the father is a rich businessman, the mother is a perfect homemaker and they have well-educated children. However, all the three novels depict that it is only true in novels; in reality the picture is seldom like that.
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