The overall connection that I chose to analyze in this report was the importance of marriage, as it is an idea that is present in almost everybody’s life, and it is something that heavily impacts the nature of a society. Marriage is seen in society in both positive and negative ways, involving emotions from true love to bitterness.
In the texts A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini, The Ballad of Calvary Street by James K Baxter, The Silk by Joy Cowley and Atonement directed by Joe Wright, this idea of the importance of marriage is clearly present in all of them, yet they are all shown so differently (negatively and positively) as to give examples of the ways that it is interpreted in different societies, and allow me to deduce the importance that this idea holds on a global scale. Romantic love is recognized in most societies by the practice of marriage.
This is a prominent symbol in all the texts I have covered except for Atonement, where the absence of marriage is used to show the couple’s true love. In this film, we see that Cecelia and Robbie are in love, however a misunderstanding on the part of Cecelia’s sister, Briony, means that Cecelia and Robbie are prevented from marriage or even being together. This is shown as a particularly tragic incident, which shows the importance that society places on the process of marriage.
This is also a very prominent idea in the novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, which is set in Afghanistan. We see two women, Laila and Mariam, who are owned and controlled by their shared husband, and their lives literally rely on him, because as women, they are unable to attain independence due to their country’s beliefs. In Afghan society, marriage is a sacred business, and any sexual relations outside of marriage are greatly looked down upon, and the punishment for a female offender can be as severe as torture or death by the girl’s family or husband.
This also shows the idea of the importance of marriage that is shown in Atonement, as marriage is seen as the pinnacle of happiness in both texts, However in A Thousand Splendid Suns it is shown in a more negative manner, with marriage being shown as an essential burden rather than a desire. Marriage is also shown as a necessity in the poem, The Ballad of Calvary Street, but for different reasons. In this poem, a poorly suited elderly couple stay together, to prevent the disruption of their family. This shows that even New Zealand society can view marriage as an important action, and a obligation in functional family life.
This shows a similar idea to that in A Thousand Splendid Suns and Atonement, that marriage is a necessary action. In the short story The Silk, we see an elderly married couple, of which the husband is nearing death. The woman in the relationship is finding it hard to come to terms with her husbands impending demise, as she has a set routine which revolves around her and her husband’s relationship. This presents the idea that is shown in A Thousand Splendid Suns, Atonement and The Ballad of Calvary Street, that marriage is a prerequisite for a happy life, and it is a tragedy to be without it.
In the Silk, we can tell that this married couple are truly in love from quotes such as, “she guarded him so possessively that she even resented the twice-weekly visits from the district nurse,” which shows the devoted way that they take care of each other, presenting the traditional idea of marriage. In Atonement, when childhood sweethearts Robbie and Cecelia are prevented from being together, we are struck by the tragedy of the fact that they will never be able to get married, and live out their lives together.
This portrays the aspect of marriage that is shown in The Silk, that marriage is a symbol of the love between two people, and that it is a contract which binds the two people together for the rest of their lives, as we see Robbie and Cecelia denied of this entitlement. In today’s society, a happy couple who are in love are expected to get married. This relates to both The Silk and Atonement, as in both texts marriage is seen as a necessity for the happiness of the people involved, which further supports the idea that society regards marriage as particularly important.
From these texts, society may be able to reassess its outlook on the controversial matter of gay marriage. The tragedy of Cecelia and Robbie’s separation that is shown in Atonement and the portrayal of the happiness involved in marriage that is shown in The Silk could be enough to convince the large portion of society that is against gay marriage that they are wrong, as in both texts marriage is shown as a component of happiness that should not be denied of anyone.
The relationships and situations that are shown in the texts are not exclusive to heterosexual couples, and would translate just as well to homosexual relationships, meaning that the ideas attached to the texts can be applied to same-sex couples as well, and could have an influence on the opinion that people hold towards gay marriage. Unfortunately, marriage is not always a happy affair, as it is intended to be.
This is plainly shown in the text The Ballad of Calvary Street, as we see an unfortunate couple who are forced to remain together due to the stigma attached to divorce. Quotes such as “Mum takes down the family files,” suggest that family is not an important thing to the couple, since they have fallen apart, but that they continue to treat it as such, as they consider it their duty as parents to remain married. This idea that marriage is a compulsory task is also shown in A Thousand Splendid Suns, as we see protagonist Laila is forced into marriage, for her own survival.
Her husband knowingly takes advantage of her vulnerable situation, saying, “These days, times being what they are, a woman needs a husband,” showing that marriage can often take place for reasons other than love (as was shown in The Ballad of Calvary Street), and that this can easily be taken advantage of. This presents the idea that in many different societies, (New Zealand and Afghan), marriage is seen as an essential measure, even when one or both of the people involved in the relationship are unhappy.
Although this is an unfortunate truth, it is one that must sometimes be accepted, as it is often present in today’s society. These texts could help people come to terms with the idea that marriage is not always a representation of love, as they show legitimate alternative reasons for marriage, (the stability of family life or the safety of a person in a certain community. ) This could benefit society as it would create an understanding and acceptance of the reality of marriage today.
In conclusion, the idea of marriage is a common theme in many texts, including Atonement directed by Joe Wright, The Silk by Joy Cowley, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini and The Ballad of Calvary Street by James K Baxter. Although marriage is not always the quintessential act of love and can sometimes tell a tragic story, it is important that it is expressed in forms such as these texts so that society can reflect on its faults and hopefully improve its approach on the subject.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 12 October 2016
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