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The Shawl: a study on the interpretation of history - Essay Example

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The Shawl by Louse Erdrich is a story about a piece of history within a family and how that piece of history defined how the members of that family lived from that point forward. The story begins with a woman who falls in love with a man who is not her husband and is from a different a different camp. …
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Download file to see previous pages The Shawl by Louse Erdrich is a story about a piece of history within a family and how that piece of history defined how the members of that family lived from that point forward The story begins with a woman who falls in love with a man who is not her husband and is from a different a different camp. The woman falls into a depression after giving birth to a child by the man she loves and it falls to her daughter to take care of the family. The husband decides to send her to the other camp to be with the man because life has become miserable because of the passion she holds for this other man. Their children, a boy and a girl, are divided between them, the girl going with the mother and the baby, and the boy to stay with his father. The boy, not wanting to be left behind, runs after the wagon, but falls and faints, leaving his father to carry him home. As he wakes, the boy tells stories of seeing shadows out on the road and the father, who suspects it was more than just the imaginings of a little boy, sets out and discovers evidence that his daughter was torn apart by wolves, leaving him to believe that his wife had thrown her to them to save the wagon from being attacked. The man is lost in despair, holding to the brown shawl, torn to pieces, that was all he had left of his daughter. The son grows to manhood, a wasted life of alcohol and violence. His son finally confronts him physically to stop his own abuse, and upon wiping his father’s injuries with the strange piece of cloth that has always been at his bedside, hears finally the story of his aunt. In hearing the story, the son asks if having been a brave and tenderhearted girl, was it not possible that she had sacrificed herself to save the others in the wagon. The way in which a family defines itself is through the perception of its history, the story of ancestry that creates a framework of identity while providing for the relationships within that family to become connected through the beliefs about that history. Anaquot, the mother in the story, is framed as a selfish woman whose love for another man tears her family apart and leads to the death of the one beloved member of the family - the daughter. Throughout the history of the three generations that are represented in the family, her selfishness and vile act at throwing her daughter to the wolves provided a foundation on which the rest of the relationships were defined. The family identity was based upon the loss of this girl, the tragedy of her murder by her mother. Because Anaquot is framed as a selfish woman, it is plausible that she threw her daughter from the wagon in order to save herself and the others. As the girl was a beloved child to the father, her death would need more blame than just the wolves, thus he laid the blame on his wife who was leaving him. The boy, who had such a great sorrow in being left behind, was forever changed by the horror of this realized history within his family. He was in the position to be left behind, to live within the aftermath of this history, and to deal with being the lesser child who was not wanted by either his mother or father, but was a poor substitution for the daughter who had been lost. There are two distinct sets of characters that can be compared and contrasted for their position within the story. The daughter and son of Anaquot and her husband are in contrast, the daughter, a child who had great value, and the son whose value had yet to be determined as at his young age had shown only an emotional dependency that made him seem weak. His strength was yet to be developed, but it would be developed through the impact of the family history from which the rest of his fate was determined. The other strong comparison can be made between Anaquot and her daughter, Anaquot indulging her emotional state at the expense of all others, while her daughter took over for her mother, showing great strength and maturity in taking care of those things of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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