The ways in which individuals take responsibility for themselves and others Responsibility is a very strong word. Holding yourself accountable for your actions and others at the same time is not an easy task. It may seem easy, less painful or less demanding to not take responsibility for yourself. It’s more comfortable but there’s always a price to pay. When you don’t take responsibility for yourself or others that are important to you, you are giving away your personal power. It is extremely complicated for parents. Parents have to take accountability for themselves and their children. Mothers play a bigger role in taking care of us and shaping us into a grown individual. Mothers are more emotionally attached to their child. If their child does anything wrong, they always tend to blame their behavior on themselves and the way they have raised their children. Women forget to take in account their own self-interests; instead they worry about their family.
This is perfectly portrayed in a short story by Budge Wilson called ‘The Leaving’. In this story, Elizabeth, a helpless wife, takes responsibility for the chauvinistic behavior of her children and her husband. In an attempt to change her lifestyle, Elizabeth stand up to her husband after 19 years; she showers her daughter with opportunities and tries to alter the behaviors of her sons and grandsons. Elizabeth lived a life of a typical suppressed housewife. She lived on a farm unaware of the outside world. She sat at home all her life trying to satisfy the needs of her husband, Lester and her 6 children. Elizabeth never got the appreciation she deserved, all she got was more and more duties which eventually became a burden in her life. Elizabeth’s outlook on her life started to alter when she read the book ‘The Feminine Mystique”. This book gave Elizabeth a lot of courage and hope that she is not alone in this world. The revelations of other women going through similar circumstances enlarged her thinking. This book gave her an incentive to step up and make a change in her life.
Lester, Elizabeth’s husband never treated her as an equal human being. Elizabeth practically did all the work in the house starting from fetching eggs and water, cooking, washing clothes to cleaning the house. Lester always treated her like a servant and showed her no respect. Elizabeth finally got tired of Lester looking down at her like a peasant, so finally decided to stand up for herself. “My name,’ she repeated, this time more steadily, “is Elizabeth”. Elizabeth says this to Lester when Lester calls her just a woman. She feels the need to let her husband know that she is not the old suppressed wife anymore. This strong comment explains the change in Elizabeth’s character and shows that she cannot be thrown around like a puppet. She turns from an isolated victim to a strong woman who can finally take responsibility and ownership on her life.
Elizabeth is fully aware of the status of women in the house. Sylvie, Elizabeth’s daughter, is the only victim left after Elizabeth in the house. Elizabeth, as a mother wants to make sure that her daughter doesn’t go through the same problems that she encountered. Sylvie, as a second female in the house, had a lot more responsibilities in the house as compared to her brothers. Elizabeth always knew this at the back of her head but was waiting for the right time to show Sylvie her actual place which is why one day at 3 a.m, Elizabeth suddenly decided to go to Halifax with her daughter. “Where ya going, Ma?” I asked. She was standing beside my bed with her coat on. “Away”, said Ma. “And yer comin’ too”. This situation explains the sudden departure from the house. Moreover, Elizabeth wants Sylvie to have everything that she never got the chance to have.
Elizabeth lived isolated from the rest of the world. Taking Sylvie to Halifax and showing her the world was Elizabeth’s way of showing her daughter, a new way of life. “Because yer the smartest,” she said. “And because yer a woman”. This phrase shows how Elizabeth enforces the fact that her daughter is the smartest out of all her children. Elizabeth shows her daughter the University of Halifax and dreams about her daughter studying in it one day. Elizabeth tries to set an example for Sylvie and show her a new pathway to life. She wanted Sylvie to think beyond the fields and fetching eggs, she wanted her to have a career and be a strong and successful woman. Elizabeth succeeds in moulding her daughter’s future and completes her task as a mother and most importantly, as a woman. Furthermore, Elizabeth takes accountability of her son’s behaviors.
Elizabeth went away to Halifax thinking that something would change back home, but when she returned, nothing changed. “the way I sees it is y’ kin ask fer kindness or politeness from time t’ time. But y’ can’t expect no miracles. It’s my own fault fer raisin’ four boys like they was little men. I shoulda put them in front of a dishpan fifteen years ago.” This quote explains the misery Elizabeth is going through but instead of blaming the situation on the boys, she takes all the blame on herself. As a Mother, Elizabeth feels guilty and questions the upbringing of her sons. Elizabeth emphasizes this idea of mothers raising their sons as ‘strong and brave with no soft edges’ but they often forget that men should be taught everything starting from cooking and cleaning to working.
Men and woman should be treated equally so they can both be strong and build their life without any obstacles. In addition to that, Elizabeth tries to make up for her mistakes by teaching her grandsons how to wash dishes and make cookies. Elizabeth realizes that he made a mistake by not teaching her sons how to cook or clean, but she doesn’t want to repeat herself. Elizabeth steps up and takes responsibility of her grandsons by teaching them basic necessities in life. The Journey that Elizabeth sets forth for herself in this story is a portrayal of all the responsibilities she has taken in life. Elizabeth finally takes a step forward and talks back to her husband.
She also tries her level best to open her daughter’s mind to all the opportunities that are present in this world. Furthermore, Elizabeth tries to change her grandson’s future by teaching them everything she failed to teach their fathers. Elizabeth is a perfect example for women who think they are helpless in this world. Elizabeth has proven that there is a way out of every problem in life. If one door closes, the other one opens. There are many possibilities and roads to take in life; one should just take the risk without worrying about the consequences. Instead of expecting a miracle, an individual should step up and make those miracles happen.
Courtney from Study Moose
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