The Question:

What impact does family have during the different stages of our lives?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Adopted Family

The family is a haven in a heartless world. ~Attributed to Christopher Lasch

What is a person to do then, if they have no family? What other haven could compete with a family?

This is the case for Virginia Woolf’s character, Lily, in her novel To the Lighthouse. Lily’s family is never mentioned and even though she is a grown woman, she has never been married. Lily seems to find her haven in her art, but I believe that only offers partial satisfaction for Lily.

One of the main motifs the reader sees presented in this novel is that of Lily’s painting; this is what truly brings peace to Lily and brings meaning to the chaos seen between all the characters. Lily’s painting was inspired by Mrs. Ramsay and her family and would not have been created if it were not for the impact the Ramsay family had on Lily.

Even though Lily was not a member of the Ramsay family, she was impacted by them enough so that most of her thoughts had to do with none other than the Ramsay family.

Why was she so interested in the Ramsay family?

I believe it is because of the impact they had on her. She watched them interact every single day and learned so much from them. So much, in fact, that she arguably became part of their family. Family doesn’t always mean blood relation; I believe family has more to do with the social connection shared than by whether or not you share the same DNA. Family is important to everyone because of the impact it has- it undoubtedly had an impact on Lily.

I Miss You…?

Friend, you have done me
Kindness, like a father to his son,
Book I
Lines 355-356

The son paused by a tall pear tree and wept.
Then inwardly debated; should he run
Forward and kiss his father and pour out
His tale of war, adventure, and return,
Or should he first interrogate him, test him?
Better that way, he thought-
First draw him out with sharp words, trouble him.
Lines 259-265

What were ancient Greek families built on? Kindness from a father to a son, but not from a son to a father? Where did this theme of hospitality we dissected throughout this epic vanish to?

Telémakhos did not know his father growing up, he knew only of his father. The impact that Odysseus may have had on Telémakhos as a young boy was a missed opportunity because Odysseus was not around. Telémakhos knew not of the relationship between a father and a son, or, at least, had not experienced one.

The impact Odysseus had on Telémakhos was not one he was aware of. In “The Odyssey” we see Telémakhos change in order to be more like his father. He works to be a better leader, to be strong, and to be brave. When Telémakhos and Odysseus are reunited they work together to beat suitors showing that even though they had been apart the impact they had on each other was strong enough to bring them together as if they had been for all their lives. This is what I believe family to be- that uniting force that means you’ll never be alone.

Off and Running

What impact does family have during the different stages of our lives?

The relationship I share with my family has been many things; enduring, secure, exhilarating, vexing, but most of all loving.

This relationship, no matter the twists and turns it takes, is built upon unconditional love. I know that my family will rejoice with me when I succeed, but that they will walk with me through the hard times I am bound to face as well.

As I have grown, my relationship with my family has changed. When I once depended on my parents for everything, I have now become more independent and do more for myself than I ever have before. My parents no longer take care of me in the way they used to. It is normal for me to feed and clothe myself and even to get myself to the places I need to be and do the things I need to do; my parents do less for me now in that aspect of my life, but the appreciation I have for them has grown.

Yes, my family impacted me when I was younger. It was from them that I learned lying and hitting are bad and that I always need to use my manners, but the impact I now feel has shaped me into who I am, not just what I do.