Love and Suffering in Family Memoirs

The Civil War championship game was locked up by halftimet By the time the streamers and confetti landed, the Crimson Tide were already looking ahead to the next Civil War. “Every game a Southern team played a Northern team was a reenactment of the Civil War” (Miller) The outcome was clear as Al McCarron and the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide overpowered the No. 1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 42-14 for the BCS championship. As the substance of the contest was decided and finished it was all over but the shoutin’ as the Crimson Tide clinched a second straight national title.

Based on the Southern saying, all over but the shoutin,’ it was a done deal for the Crimson Tide and was allover but the shoutin’ for Rick Bragg, who grew up dirt-poor in Northeastern Alabama. It was a done deal as the television sets around the country were flipping to any other channelt The BCS championship was supposed to be an enormously anticipated matchup between two of the nation's most storied programs, but the Crimson Tide were victorious once again, winning their third title in four years.

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“I used to stand amazed and watch the redbirds fight“ (Bragg xi)t Just as over 80,000 fans stopped doing what they were doing to watch the Crimson Tide and the Fighting Irish fight, Bragg and other grown men would stop what they were doing to watch the redbirds fight, The redbirds would flutter through the sky and stab each other’s eyes out on the ground.

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The redbirds would attack their own reflection in mirrors as if it was nature. “It hurled its body again and again against the unyielding image, until it pecked a crack in the glass, until the whole mirror was smeared with blood" (xi), The redbirds attacked themselves as if they hated what they saw like the Fighting Irish. However, “this is not an important book” (Bragg xi). Instead this memoir was about a tortured man, a strong woman, and their three sons. “Anyone could have wrote it, and that‘s the shame of it” (xii). Likewise, the Crimson Tide victory was not important, but ratherjust another victory.

All Over but the Shoutin’ by Rick Bragg was a story written in a temporal sequence about the love and suffering that lies at the heart of every family. Bragg grew up surrounded by undesirable conditions. His father was a misanthropic drunk with a murderous temper and the habit of running away, while his mother, went eighteen years without a new dress so that her three sons could have school clothes. Just as there is love and suffering that lies at the heart of every family, there is love and suffering that lies at the heart of every football team. With that being stated, is it all over but the shoutin’ for the Fighting Irish? Bragg was seemingly destined for either the cotton mills or the penitentiary, like most of the Crimson Tide players and other players around the Southeastern Conference (SEC), However, this was not the case for Bragg or football players out of the SEC. Bragg went onto become a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The New York Times, while football in the South became a secular religion. College football has been conquered by the SEC. The games became bigger, more colorful, and were about more than X‘s and O‘s, “They were about contrasting regions and ways of life and even worldviews” (“Down Here“) As Bragg went on to work for The New York Times, the Southern obsessiveness over football became a self-fulfilling prophecy. In today‘s world, a self-fulfilling prophecy has occurred in the SEC because of fan expectation and their behavior in accordance with that expectation. “To a great extent we become what we believe” (Adler 50) In a sense, people constantly create and re-create our self-concepts through perceptions Although some perceptions of Southern football superiority are real, others are exaggerated, which is similar to the culture of a Southern writer and the perceptions of the communication patterns between Bragg and his audience. In general, the relationship between culture and communication is very complex and intimate. The culture of a Southern writer or football player may focus on a common Southern history, the significance of family, a sense of community, a sense ofjustice, the region's dominant religion, issues of racial tension, a sense of social class, and the use of the Southern dialect. Every culture has its own worldview and its own way of looking at the world, but what is culture? “The word ‘culture’ no longer, I suspect, stands in most people’s minds for that whole congeries of institutions, relations, kinship patterns, linguistic forms, and the rest for which the early anthropologists meant it to stand“ (Epstein) I believe culture refers to popularizing certain individuals who have unique attributes that society thinks are exceptional. In this modern era, these attributes may or may not be true. In a sense, it is not so much that individuals set out to create a culture when they interact in relationships, groups, organizations, or societies, but rather cultures are a natural by-product of social interaction Therefore, a writer or football players culture is created, shaped, transmitted, and learned through communication and communication practices are largely created, shaped, and transmitted by culture.

Many years ago people needed to have certain talents and virtues to be known throughout society. “One has the impression that being a celebrity was easier at any earlier time than it is now, when celebrity-creating institutions, from paparazzi to gutterpress expose’ to television talk-shows, weren’t as intense, as full—court press, as they are today" (Epstein). In today’s world, it is common for people to be well»known writers or football players due to their wrong behavior or self-promotion. Writers and football players sometimes attempt at becoming famous by various means, such as entering reality television, or dating someone of high status The glorification of people, who seek fame, has made culture spiral out of controlt Unfortunately, culture has, and always will have, an influence on society. Bragg‘s rhetoric is written during the ragged history in Northeastern Alabama “It is not something I can go look up in a book. Poor people in the South do not make many historical registers unless we knock some rich man off his horse. It is not something I can research standing over the silence of graves” (Bragg xvi), During Bragg’s history, stories were seldom written down. They were only passed one to another over the ring of guitar strings in the cotton fieldsi Bragg was born during one of those periods when his father had abandoned his mother and in a time when the words of George Wallace rang through Alabama. “The biggest reason for writing this story is to set one thing straight from now on” (Bragg xix), The main reason Bragg wrote the memoir was to show his mother she was not a failure, but rather a hero. In comparison, there is a reason why the Fighting Irish played the Crimson Title ”The truth is that I am proud of who and what I am” (xx) The Fighting Irish should be proud of their remarkable season, especially due to the fact they were unranked at the start of the season. Although the Crimson Tide looked the part of a BCS champion, the Irish walked away understanding what it takes to make it this far. In this memoir Bragg made the dead dance again with the living and the Fighting Irish were able to appreciate what the Crimson Tide were able to do to carry off the final chapter.

Either way, “it is still a damn hard thing to do, when you think about it” (xxii). However, to understand football’s place in the South people must first understand it form the inside “It is understood that college football has been an antidote to an often dark history for as long as even our oldest people can recall” (“Down Here”). Today people believe that Southern colleges are dominant at football because they have better athletes due to lower academic standards, but the University of Alabama's graduation ranking was third among BCS schools last season, behind Penn State University and Stanford University. The University of Alabama is a public research university located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, while the University of Notre Dame is a Catholic research university located in South Bend, Indiana It is perceived that Southerners take pride in football and Northerners take pride in academics, “The University of Alabama is ranked among the nation’s top 25 institutions of higher learning in surveys, while the University of Notre Dame is ranked in the nation’s top 50" (“Academic Ranking of World Universities 2013”). In addition, “the University of Alabama is ranked among the nation‘s top 15 athletic institutions, while the University of Notre Dame is ranked in the nation’s top 20" (“National University Ranking”).Consequently, the Crimson Tide take pride in football and the Fighting Irish take pride in academics. Therefore, just as academics can be a variable in college football, social-economic class can be a variable in communication. All Over but the Shoutin’ focuses on the diverse and changing working class culture. On the contrary, The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeanette Walls focuses on the culture of her dysfunctional family. “Even as traditional blue-collar jobs seem to be disappearing, the working class remains a vital part of America's culture and economy” (“New Working—Class Studies”), Today a majority of Americans like to believe they are middle class. “About 45% of Americans identified themselves as working class, and some economists say that as many as 62% of Americans are working class" (“New Working-Class Studies”). Nonetheless, what is class? Class is closely related to race, gender, and religion, which can affect an individual’s self-theory. Class affects Bragg‘s self—concept through messages form significant others, reflected appraisal, and through social comparison with reference groups, “Self-concept is relatively stable set of perceptions which individuals hold about themselves” (Roberts, Charles, Edwards, and Baker 22). For example, Bragg was able to keep a positive self-concept despite his childhood poverty. However, his self-concept was lifted when he bought a 1969 GM convertible that made him feel superficial. Bragg liked the feeling of not only being popular, but also liked being able to drive out of his past.

In addition, class affects Bragg’s self-esteem, which has to do with his evaluations of self-worth. “Self-esteem is being proud of oneself of evaluating one’s attributes highly” (Wylie 127). For example, Bragg's mother encouraged his self-esteem by encouraging him to read literature. Although class is not about how much money an individual makes, it can shape a person’s life and the way an author communicates with their audience In comparison, Bragg is a straight forward author who is known for his emotional generosity and compelling storytelling. His writing is affected by his personal history of the Deep South. Bragg’s writing style is overly sentimental, At times he uses idioms within the exposition, which exemplify the Southern stereotype he claims to have struggled against all his life. However, despite his talent, Bragg will always have a chip on his shoulder like the Fighting Irish. On the other hand, Walls uses imagery and detail as she communicates with her audience. Throughout the entire book, Walls never complains as she conveys her education while showing her attention to detail. Walls writes about her resilience and redemption in relation to her dysfunctional family. The Walls children learned to take care of themselves, They fed, clothed, and protected one another. Her parents believed their kids should be able to take care of themselves and that too much parental intervention would lead kids into becoming too dependent. For example, Wall’s father teaches her how to swim by forcing her to sink or swim. “If you don't want to sink, you better figure out how to swim” (Walls 66), Therefore, Walls and her siblings were constantly in dangerous situations like this. Eventually, Walls moved to New York and her parent’s followed. However, it was all over but the shoutin‘ for her parent’s because they chose to be homeless. Consequently, like Bragg and the Fighting Irish, Walls too, will always have a chip on her shoulder. In conclusion, in All Over but the Shoutin‘, Bragg, demonstrated the love and suffering that lies at the heart of every family, In comparison, in A Glass Castle: A Memoir, Walls, reviled the intense love of a peculiar, but loyal family. Conversely, it may have been all over but shoutin’ for Bragg’s father and Walls’ parent’s, but it was not a done deal for Bragg, Walls, or the Fighting lrish.

Updated: May 03, 2023
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Love and Suffering in Family Memoirs. (2022, Jul 08). Retrieved from

Love and Suffering in Family Memoirs essay
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