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Robert E. Lee, a famous general in the Civil War, was faced with a decision that could majorly alter his reputation. As the conflict started, President Abraham Lincoln offered Lee a position to serve as a commander on the Union side; this was done in hopes of gaining a skilled general. However, Lee declined because his hometown and relatives resided in Virginia. Therefore, he joined the Confederate side due to the fact that he could not fight against his own people.
As demonstrated by Robert E. Lee during the Civil War, the sacrifice for family is important. Many people stand by their family because that is an aspect of life that can not be replaced. In this case, Lee proved that ‘blood is thicker than water’: a theme across a plethora of literature and films. The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar and Antigone by Sophocles answer the question on the priority of family when individual loyalties are called into question.
Sera’s loyalty to her family overpowers her relationship with Bhima. Two women quite alike, but separated by social status, Sera and Bhima always help each other in desperate times. Not only does Sera provide extensive care to Maya’s pregnancy, but she also aids Bhima in times of crisis. However, Feroz, Sera’s abusive and manipulative husband, compromises Sera’s connection with Bhima. Although he died many years prior, Sera still has ‘thoughts [that] make her stiffen, the same way she had tensed the day she caught her daughter, then fifteen, giving Bhima an affectionate hug’ (Umrigar 29).
It is hard for Sera to break rules that were heavily implemented by her deceased husband for the fear of an ‘occasional bruise that clothes and makeup couldn’t hide·’ (28). Sera’s devotion to her husband and his rules causes great tension and awkwardness between the women. In addition, Sera does not hesitate to ‘hide behind the folds of family when she has to choose’ (311). When Bhima is falsely accused of theft, Sera quickly believes her son-in-law, Viraf, and ends her association with Bhima. Viraf accuses Bhima because he knows that Sera would ‘choose her son-in-law’s obvious lie’ (311) and turn a blind eye to the situation. Sera’s loyalty to the decisions and actions of her family ultimately ruin a life long friendship.
Similarly, Antigone’s loyalty to Polyneices breaks off ties with the state. As the ancient Greeks believe, one must have a proper burial and any action otherwise would be considered inhumane. Antigone feels strongly about this since ‘[Polyneices] is [her] brother’ and she ‘shall not abandon him’ (Sophocles 193). Although he fought against the state, it is her duty as a blood relative to give her brother a peaceful journey to the afterlife. Despite the constant warnings from Antigone’s sister, Ismene, Antigone is determined to ‘raise a tomb above [her] dearest brother’ (194) and challenge the rules for family. In the same fashion as The Space Between Us, Antigone is mourning over a dead family member and does not break her loyalty for him. In addition, Antigone, like Sera, does not care about the opinions of others and keeps her traditional views in her own mind. A major view is that ‘there is no shame to reverence relatives’ (212) which is the purpose of Antigone’s loyalty. Moreover, Antigone is devoted to her brother to the extent that she ‘died long ago, when [she] gave [her] life to serve the dead’ (216). Antigone would rather be dead and justify herself than to abide by the rules of the city. Family is too important to Antigone, even if that means running into a consequence.
Familial loyalty is the most important aspect in one’s life. As a child, I have always been taught to respect and honor my parents and realtives. I was also taught that faithfulness towards loved ones has to come from the heart and be genuine. In Russian culture, family is an aspect that can never be changed, so because of that, family has to come first. During World War II, Russia was occupied by many Nazis that were searching for Jewish people. At that time, my grandfather was trying to hide and flee his home country with his immediate family. However, as he was leaving, his cousin desperately needed help escaping and asked him for some aid. My grandfather agreed. He compromised his safety in order to ultimately, help his couisn escape death. This story has stuck with me ever since my grandfather had told it to my brother and I. It truly solidifies the importance of allegiance and sacrifice towards family, which is an aspect that Antigone in Antigone and Sera in The Space Between Us have to endure.
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