Both discussing struggles in life, these two memoirs, Pursuit of Happyness and the Glass Castle showcased the way to embrace life with absolutely no fear. They both provided ideals and showed that nothing is impossible with the use of right and appropriate attitude towards the quest for success. Both are true stories based on life of successful individuals in America. The Pursuit of happiness tackles the life of Chris Gardner, a salesman of bone scanner who turned to be a stock broker. This story can be considered as a modern day fairy tale set in a realistic world. This is no different compared to other success stories.
The plot is basically structured to show the trend of rugs to riches. But what separated this story from others is the series of unfortunate circumstances and continuous lack of options. At the end, the choice made has always been to proceed with the chosen track with courage. On the other hand, The Glass castle discussed the story of horrendous childhood of Jeanette Walls, who later became a journalist. The book shows two polarity of human experience along the story of her family: first, the given life which they do not control; and second, the track of life they had chosen and fought for.
The given life pertains to Jeanette’s childhood where she experienced bad situations with her family while they keep on transferring to different locations. Frequently, these complex canonic novels are bound with the stories with the relationships they had with the family. The struggles are either quest to free them from poverty and consequently lift their loved ones’ lives as well or the quest for dreams that they are meant to achieve. The family as an element of the story will provide the touch of power or inspiration for the main character to achieve.
Taking a look at these two books, apparently, they both have this story element. The family of Chris Gardner is neither complex nor at ease. It is the typical “husband- wife- one child” New York family. Economically wise, the family is financially challenged due to the instability with their income. The couple is both working at day making them decide to send their son to a day care center. The problems they are encountering sometimes leads to arguments between Chris and his wife. At one of the heated arguments, his wife decided to leave him.
This departure is the touch of the story for either the biggest downfall of the main character or the touch of breaking point for his upcoming success. The only one left for Gardner is his son, and as mentioned above, the child served as the sole source of his inspiration. From that point, he experienced the worst parts of his life as told in the narration. He became homeless- he carries all his and his son’s clothes along way and facing the fact that they are alone and can only rely with each other. Their schedule and budget became so tight that only a little mistake will make their situation drastically worse.
In one instance, when they missed a bus ride, they also missed the stay in the place for homeless where they are regularly staying. While the Pursuit of Happyness has a little bracket of time setting used in its storytelling, the Glass Castle started from the childhood of the character. It showed the picture of the family, where Jeanette is involved, as not much functioning. Her father is alcoholic and her mother shows poor in handling the family and plays to be so childish. One thing cannot be denied though. These parents love their kids so much.
Jeanette, as the narrator and the second oldest child in the family shows his solid belief with her parent’s desires not to send them to any form of harm and secure them with all their needs as long as they could. She believes that his father, Rex, is worthy of respect. She never lose the optimistic perception that if her father is not drunk, it will reveal his true side that he is caring for the children and just turned to alcohol out of despair from embarrassment and disappointment. The kids had hard time when they are crossing the countries to find a new place to stay.
They are like nomads popping up in several different places and added to that are the behavior of their parents who are mildly psychologically ill. Their mother, Rose Mary is an artist at heart and was known to be childish at some point. There is a scene when she was caught hiding candies which make her gain weight. She went mad like a child when her kids learned about it. What made this mad is the fact that during those days, her children are in fact experiencing starvation and she still chose to hide food from them.
Looking at these characters, it is obvious that the roles they have for the story as a whole are crucial in shaping the latter status of the main character. The characters are element of the story that provides the touch of human experiences. It is important to notice that every character in a story doesn’t just serve differently when it comes to their role but they also vary with the way they are presented according to the power they are contributing with the plot and the storyline. Perhaps, this is measured with the way and with the degree of their impact on the story and other characters.
Emphasis on the characters can be leading for there are characters that are more exposed throughout the tale but have less significance with the essence of the story. Comparing these two memoirs, there can be assumptions that the set of characters in the Glass Castle shows strength more vivid than the set of characters in Pursuit of Happyness. The characters of Pursuit of happiness are dynamic humans but the picture of supporting characters of the Glass Castle shows a wider range of human tendencies. It doesn’t necessarily mean though that the characters of the latter are worth being followed than the characters of the former.
Analyzing the two main characters, Chris Gardner and Jeanette Walls, there is one common characteristic between them- optimism. They are similar to Helen Keller, who prefers to see good things but not necessarily ignore those bad things. What they are doing is to move straight towards the path they have chosen despite those bad things. If we are to put that mindset into metaphor, it is about treating the obstacles and negativity as cheerleaders that are necessary to boost their hype of desire towards success. It is common that there are psychological pressures to ensure that the family’s security is sustained and assured.
And with these two main characters, indifference had been the key. This serves the fact that whoever you were doesn’t define who you are going to be instead whoever you were doesn’t matter in the future (Murray & Fortinberry: 14-17). Chris Gardner is a composed man who has subtle knowledge about boundaries – boundaries that he has and boundaries that other people has. To prove this, along the argument he has with his wife, there was a neighbor who is trying to clean a rug and the dusts are all in the air. Being disturbed, Chris confront that guy and tell him to stop it for there are people trying to talk.
This certain part of the story shows how Chris knows what he deserves in life although this given example is so subtle since it only talks about dusts and a rug. Later, his neighbor counter argues and continued cleaning. Chris was silenced but what shows here is not defeat but the strength of the character as someone who has a solid knowledge about his limitation as a neighbor, as an individual. Jeanette Walls, on the other hand, was remarkable because more than just her intelligence, she also has guts to get out from poverty without blaming others such as her parents.
Her family supplied the role of somehow similar to a typical antagonist in a novel. But this is not how it was perceived in this memoir. The parents, throughout the novel, showed the picture of being irresponsible. The family is in the poverty line. These are both valid reasons for a child to hate the situations where they are involved. Surprisingly, Jeanette is not that kind of child or to be exact, she is the complete opposite of that. Unconditional love has been a subject for romantic fictions but seldom that it was used in the context of a family. The way it was shown is remarkably skilled.
Jeanette, indeed, grew up as a learning machine that gains knowledge and used them to endure all the obstacles she is facing in her life. Like what was mentioned, the supporting character of the Glass Castle has added an unusual texture on the story. This happened because the characters were introduced with diversified tendencies. Rose Mary was inclined to art and is a brilliant woman. Later, it was revealed that due to some issues with her husband, she started to act childish. This shift with the mother will only contribute to the failure of their family.
One significant key point in both stories is the concept of fatherhood. Fatherhood is a common subject for art pieces not just for literature. Patriarchy is a social phenomenon that needs to be handled with enough care for this is more than just an issue of individuality or masculinity but more on its social context. There are two dimension of fatherhood: First, the role as a father to children and second, the role as the husband. Contract theories had been applied in the field of social sciences to analyze each role further. Moreover, it has its political and social considerations mostly.
In relation to paternal politics, in reference to the works of Robert Goodin and Philipp Pettit, in the separate story of Gardner and Walls, the dimension that was mostly tackled is the paternal role of fatherhood. The main difference is the direction of the issue in relation to the social environment. There are no issues between Chris and his son. The issues in the story are just directed on them from the outside social environment. Poverty is one situation which is characterized by being homeless, jobless and frequent starvation. This fatherhood example is a showcase of paternal situation that was determined by the outside factors.
The direction of the issue is different in the case of Walls. Jeanette has issue with her father, whether she is indifferent of it or not. What remained clear is that the dynamics of the role of her father was ruined by depressions. It consequently ruined the social environment which is the family. This issue was even amplified when the father turned into alcohol as a defense mechanism for all their mishaps. This patriarchal politics had been one of the central ideas of both memoirs and is crucial in understanding the thought of them.
Chris Gardner is a hero for his son, Christopher. This is a strong indicator of his paternal polarity. The track that Chris took is solely devoted for them. This shows that whatever is going to happen to anyone of them, the effect will be on both of them. This tie between the two is exquisitely shown in the book without any usage of sentimentality and without using too much romanticism. In the case of Jeanette Walls, the idea of paternal hero is also significant. Her wish to have a hero father is not repressed. For her, it is the reality that she is seeing.
His father is more than just a drunkard but a loving individual to her and the rest of her family. In this perception, apparently, the idea of hero father is more realistic in the story of Pursuit of Happyness. There remained an interesting idea that what Walls is conceiving or perceiving is a better or even absolute symbol of a more perfect fatherhood. Both stories are carefully written which secured the hook it can make to those who are after self-improvement. After all, these are just memoirs which are supposed to provide the stories that are personally addressed.
But in the history of this form of literature, we can’t ignore the fact that people are meant to be inspired by them and consequently change their selves. Works Cited Gardner, Chris and Troupe Quincy. the Pursuit of Happyness. MI: Amistad. (2006). Walls, Jeanette. The Glass Castle: A Memoir. NY: Scribner (2005) Murray, Bob and Fortinberry, Alicia . Creating optimism. USA: Mc Graw Hill (2004) Goodin,Robert and Petit,Philip. Contemporary political philosophy. MA: Wiley Blackwell (1997) University of Oklahoma. World Literature Today. OK: University of Oklahoma Press. (1999)
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