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Family Affairs Essay

For this paper, I selected two works of literature, “The Love of My Life,” and “Everyday Use. ” “The Love of My Life” by T. Coraghessan Boyle deals with teenage love that transition into turmoil. “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker revolves around the social and economic differences between generations. Throughout this paper, I will be comparing the economic, educational, and social cultures of the families presented in each story. While both stories take very different paths, both illustrate the depth of which family members will go for one another.

There are several relations exemplifying social comparisons. Jeremy and China are both young souls venturing out to learn the life lessons of the surrounding world. Mama, Maggie and the pretentious Dee have very conflicting views of the world. One of the social differences the families face is the contrast in age differences. Jeremy and China are from the same generation. They share many of the same views and perspectives on events and situations around them. In “Everyday Use”, there are two different generations that have conflicting views.

This internal conflict between Mama and Dee is the leading comparison of their story. Jeremy and China, have an external force applying conflict onto their relationship. Their poor choices have led them down a path in which strife and confrontation are inevitable. One is shown this when Jeremy and China are arguing in the hotel room over the handling of their situation (Boyle 561). Conversely there is an internal conflict between Mama and Dee. Walter shows Dee never brings anyone home due to her embarrassment of her family (Walker 315).

In both situations, conflicts pull the families apart but their love for each other holds them together through their difficult situations. The economic differences are the most apparent difference between the two families. Jeremy and China both come from upper middle class families. Boyle speaks of their playing tennis and watching football on a 36 inch TV in the kitchen (Boyle 556). In “Everyday Use”, Mama goes into detail about the description of their house. She states that it does not have windows, but it has hide shaped holes in the make shift walls (Walker 316).

The economic differences between the two families are clear. The family with a stable financial background could easily avoid the type of strife Jeremy and China are faced with. Along that same pattern of thought, there should be some level of ignorance for one’s actions within Mama’s family. Ignorance is exemplified by Jeremy and China with their lack of regard for their actions, while Dee shows a sense of pride for her heritage for the first time in her life. This shows an interesting conflict between the relationship of economic stability and the choices one makes.

Simply put, there is not a simple choice. This is compelling because those of privilege often find themselves in situations of despair due to the poor choices they make. Another striking and illumination difference is the education of these families. Jeremy and China are heading off to college to further their young minds. However, this gives one a sense that they should be more aware of the consequences their actions may bring. This however is not the case. Jeremy and China both set off on a path of self-gratification and leave little room for reasoning and foresight.

One is drawn to the conclusion that China and Jeremy are intelligent young adults. They both have been accepted to respectable universities, and China is striving to outshine others with a higher GPA (Boyle 559). Contrary to China and Jeremy, Mama states that she is not very well educated. Mama did not receive an education past the second grade due to her school’s closing (Walker 316). However, her daughter Dee is off at college taking her education to a level her mother couldn’t achieve. The education gap between mother and daughter leads to both the conflict and the sympathy between the two.

The educational comparison between these two families goes against today’s social expectations. The more educated family goes down a terrible life altering path, while the less educated family has a conflict over quilts. Usually one finds those with less education in situations where foresight and planning would prevent their problem, but in these stories, it is just the opposite. A more in-depth look at the social constraints facing our two families in question reveals several insights. You have one group that is provided for in every way they need.

They are given all the tools they need to succeed in life. They come from a background of money and privilege. All of their basic needs and desires are taken care of with minimal effort on their part. The other group is one more of a post-civil rights movement in which education and luxury were not easy to come by. This group also spans a generational gap that is not present in their counter parts. Given the nature in which hard work and sacrifice was all Mama knew, she passed that on to her daughter while unknowingly protecting them from the ill-faded temptations of the privileged Jeremy and China.

Taking a look at how the society views those with privilege and education, one often hears “I can’t believe something like that would happen to them. ” Yet those same people hear of the less privileged having the same types of problems. They instantly jump to blaming their upbringing or surrounding. In Jeremy and China’s case, if their privileged lives meant a better education and upbringing, they should have foreseen trouble. Similarly, the hard work and sacrifice instilled by Mama into Dee led her to reach out and gain an appreciation for her family and heritage that she never had before.

After looking at the differences between the economical, educational, and social cultures of our two families, it is apparant many different factors go into the possible outcome of one’s path. Above all else, it comes down to a choice. Jeremy and China made a choice just like Mama and Dee made a choice. The surrounding factors play only a small fraction into the outcome when the right choices are made. Whether one pick’s “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker or “The Love of My Life” by T. Coraghessan Boyle, changing the choices our protagonists would completely change the outcome of each story.

Just because one is privileged doesn’t mean one will make the right decisions. The power of a choice lies within a person’s willingness to overcome economical, educational, and social perils. Work Cited Walker, Alice. “Everyday Use. ” Making Literature Matter: An Anthology for Readers and Writers. 5th ed. Ed. John Schilb and John Clifford. Boston: Bedford, 2012. 314-21. Print. Boyle, T. Coraghessan. “The Love of My Life. ” Making Literature Matter: An Anthology for Readers and Writers. 5th ed. Ed. John Schilb and John Clifford. Boston: Bedford, 2012. 556-69. Print.


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