Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Book Association

Tolstoy warns the reader Anna Karenina is about a dysfunctional family right away with the quote, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." So this week's theme is dysfunctional families, which really, aren't they all? I kid, I kid! Even our ShelfTator Angie stopped by to give her contribution of Great Expectations.

The Color Purple is taken from the viewpoint of Celie, a woman who is virtually sold into marriage to a man she only refers to as Mister, as she accounts for the next twenty years of her life through her letters. With stepchildren who treat her badly as well as a husband who not only beats her, but takes his mistress into their own house, Celie's family is as dysfunctional as it gets. 

I don't know even where to start with the dysfunction because it spans over several different families. I'm almost positive that every family in this book is screwed up somehow. Even the most normal family, the Starks, have the patriarch's bastard son who is hated by his father's wife. From everything to incestuous (adult) twins to a brother who virtually sells his sister into marriage in exchange for an army to everything in between, this book (and its subsequent sequels) has it covered. 

Great Expectations

While the story doesn't exactly revolve around Pip's dysfunctional family, it definitely fits the mold. Pip's sister, Mrs. Joe, who must raise Pip after the death of their parents, not only beats Pip, but also beats her husband, Joe Gargery. Setting aside the physical abuse, Pip, like most children, desperately wants to live a life different than the parents he has.  Specifically, he yearns to become a gentleman, rather than a blue collar worker like Joe. However, throughout the novel, Pip treats Joe, the one man that has treated him with respect and admiration his whole life, like he is an embarrassment and unworthy of any attention from the boy he treats as his own son.  Now add in that toward the end of the novel Pip realizes that he has feelings for his friend and old schoolmate, Biddy. Seems simple enough, but little does Pip know that since Pip's sister's death Joe and Biddy have developed a romantic relationship and want to get married. So, now, Pip's step-father/brother-in-law marries a young woman at least 20 years his junior, thereby making Biddy, his crush and old friend, his step-mother/sister-in-law. Hello, Mom??? If that isn't dysfunctional, I don't know what is...

So what books can you think of with some messed up families?

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