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Anawake Fourkiller in Pigs in Heaven and Molly Ayer in Orphan Train are in many ways very similar yet in many ways very different. They both come from a life where they or someone they love have been uprooted and in many ways this shapes their actions as well as them as individuals. The fact that they both come from childhoods that have, in some way or another, shaped their decisions as adolescents and as an adult as well in the case of Anawake, ensures that they take “history personal.
” Anawake and Molly come from a constantly changing background. Molly has been uprooted from many foster homes for many reasons and therefore does not feel secure anywhere and has trouble feeling a sense of belonging (Kline). The change in Anawake’s life in more deep rooted in the lives of not only her, her siblings being separated from her when her mother was in the hospital because of her alcoholism leading her brother to be sent to live with a white family with whom he did not belong, which, she thinks, led his life on a self destructive path and landed him in jail for armed robbery, but also the lives of her Cherokee people, having lived a hard past, led out of their homes on the trail of tears to a foreign place where they did not know how to live their lives and had to adapt unnecessarily (Kingsolver).
For Anawake this is why she takes such a strong interest in Turtles case when she oversees Turtle on Oprah and sees her with a white mother with an illegitimate adoption story.
For Molly this is why she gets herself into trouble stealing a book for fear of asking her foster parents for money to buy it and also why she evolves to enjoy working with Vivian to help her clean her attic, because she relates so dearly to the stories that Vivian recalls as they sort through boxes realizing that she is not so on her own as she feels she is but that other have experienced lives both similar and worse to the one she lives (Kline). Anawake, because she blames the white family that took her brother Gabe and separated her family, has a greater motivation to study Turtle’s case and bring her back to the Cherokee Nation, assuming that she is Cherokee, because she believes, based on her emotions and the backstory of her brother, that Turtle is experiencing a life much like that of her brothers. What she doesn’t know is that Turtle lives, although a tough life sometimes like when she has to re-wear her same outfit to school more times than she would like, a life full of love from Taylor, her adoptive mother, and Alice, her adoptive grandmother.
When Anawake figures this out however, she continues in some ways to fight for Cherokee custody for Turtle, which exemplifies perfectly the way she takes history personal (Kingsolver). Molly, who has been bounced from foster home to foster home for much of her life, takes history personal as well. She constantly thinks that whenever she does something wrong or something that displeases her foster parents that they are going to just throw her out and send her away. They do come close because her foster mother is not fond of her and, in fact, does not want to be a foster mother at all but has been convinced by her husband and he is usually who keeps Molly around. Molly has had trouble fitting in and due to the fact that she has been moved around so much she has had trouble making friends, as a defense mechanism she began to dress gothic, covering her face in light white foundation, dying her hair black and wearing black clothes and chains. This functions as her sort of acting excuse for why she has trouble meeting fiends or why she “doesn’t want friends.”
Luckily her friend Jack sees through this rough exterior and befriends her, because his friendship end up being, in a way one of the reasons she doesn’t get kicked out of her current foster home. Her current foster mother was already on edge because Molly didn’t want to eat any of her meals because Molly is a vegetarian so she was going to kick Molly out after she stole the book but she didn’t when Molly came home with a way to complete her fifty volunteer hours working in Vivian’s attic to help her unpack (Kline). Although Molly and Anawake begin to recognize that not everyone has lived they’re particular story neither girl is wrong when assuming certain things. Molly assumes that Vivian has led a hard life growing up as an orphan after hearing some of their stories (Kline). Anawake assumes that Turtle does not like milk and eventually Taylor finds out that she is actually lactose intolerant and she didn’t know.
So, in some respects their taking history personal does have its advantages for the people they are involved with (Kingsolver). In the end of both novels neither Anawake nor Molly are fully able to abandon their past and move on unscathed. Molly ends up running away from her current foster home and runs to Vivian’s home and although Vivian herself cannot take care of Molly she welcomes her at first giving her a place to feel at home (Kline). Anawake is also unable to abandon her post in the battle for custody of Turtle even after seeing that she is indeed happy with her foster mother and that she receives all the love she could expect from a family and Turtle becomes a case of shared custody between Taylor and the Cherokee nation, which turns out not to be so bad after all.
Turtle is reconnected with her grandfather recognizing him instantly and Alice, her adoptive grandmother, gets engaged to him at the end of the novel (Kingsolver). Both Anawake Fourkiller and Molly Ayer are heavily influenced by their past experiences and the past experiences of “their people,” for Molly the collective group of adoptees and for Anawake the Cherokee people as well as her immediate family, this causes them to “make history personal” and assume that the past is always a clear reflection of the future and although they are both unable to abandon their posts in the end they soften to the idea that not everyone has lived the sort of life they have and that, although they are influenced by their experiences in this particular way they could be assuming wrong about the lives of others.
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