Life in a Family Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Life in a Family

In On Going Home, the things that represent family for Didion is where the family is, she writes that, by "home" she is not referring to the place in Los Angeles where her husband and child live but where her family is. In addition, dust defines a significant part of their family life. Surfaces in their house are covered in dust and even when her husband wrote the words 'D-U-S-T' all over them, and no one noticed. She fittingly described her home as, "difficult, oblique, deliberately inarticulate…" The reader can see the families' obliqueness in the themes that the writer chooses to speak about with her brother (Didion 2). They start to speak about the people they know have been committed to mental hospitals or have been booked on drunk-driving charges.

Through the portrayal that Didion about her family life, her conservative nature is evident, she did not move away from the idea that the home she grew up in was replaced by the home that she would have made with her husband (Didion 3). This is manifest by how fast she regresses to her family ways, the writer asserts that her husband likes her family, but it is uneasy around them because the author tends to fall into "their ways." This shows that the author easily falls back into the normal family life perhaps because the other 'home' is not good enough for her.

Also, evident from her talk of the right 'home' for her, the Central Valley of California, it is apparent that she greatly loves this home and still continues to keep up with the affairs of its people. The author says that they continually talked with her brother about property, drunk-driving bookings and people committed to mental hospitals. The reader observes that Didion has an interest on the affairs of the town and even knows many of its residents. Family for Didion is her father's family, and she denies that home is not the place where her husband and child live in Los Angeles but in the Central Valley of California where her family is. This is her description of family, and it specifically axes out the baby and her husband. Family for her is composed of her brother with whom she shares the stories of their home. In addition, a major part of her family is her father and extended family such as the great-aunts (Didion 5).

For Lee, his mother being sick characterizes the picture of their home, the sounds that her electronic pump made when she was moving around the house is what stuck most as the picture of home in Lee's mind. He writes that you could hear the sounds that her machine made from anywhere within the house and that when she sometimes stopped either for some air or to steady herself, everything stopped and hung on the moment. We see that for the writer, what characterizes his view of their home is the way his mother moved around the house. Should she even stop for a moment to rest, the 'world of their house" would be instantly stopped? The writers' view of the way their home was paints him as miserable, which he has a right to be as his mother is suffering from stomach cancer (Didion 5). The writers' miserable state comes out when he writes, "The world of our house turning once more, wheeling through the black (Lee 1)." The word 'black' here denotes a low mood possibly depicting misery. In addition, the fact that the picture the writer carries of their home is one where he is always cooking for family shows that he is a responsible and hardworking child. Throughout the entire text, we see him as always trying to be there for his mother and cooking for the entire family. This is very responsible behavior from Lee.

Family for Lee is his mother, father and sister though her mother is the central part of this family. We see her dominating the family throughout the story. She has made the members of the family make many sacrifices for her. Lee's sister has just resigned from her work in New York and their father who normally saw patients until eight or nine in the evening was now arriving home at four-thirty (Lee 1-6). She is the dominant figure in the family and even after her death; the family members do not know how to live without her. The writer says that, after the death of her mother, they used to drift through the house with his father like ghosts. The writer points out that, after his mother's death, they lived like ghosts, not knowing what to do (Lee 1-6).

The kind of life that Didion lives would serve as the best representation of what home would be for me. This attributes to the fact that the family members go away, and separation comes as, a result. I also identify with the constant allure and beauty of the home where I grew up, and the continuous gossip of home and the characters that have shaped our lives. In addition, other factors like people being difficult does greatly resemble home for me.

Drifting apart of families is whereby members of a family through various reasons start moving out of the family home and the family slowly breaks apart. The two texts both contain examples of families drifting apart. In the case of Lee, his going away to attend boarding school in New Hampshire takes him away from his family and even causes him to become less familiar with his mother. He writes that her mother would sometimes sit with him for an hour or two after his father had gone to sleep before she would kiss him goodnight. This is a sure sign that the writer has grown less accustomed to his mother and that they are drifting apart (Lee 1-6).

The drifting apart of Lee's family becomes mitigated, unfortunately, by his mother's illness. Her illness has forced Lee's sister to resign from her work in New York City and come back home. His father who normally would have worked until late in the evening now came home early, this is a sign that the family drifting apart is checked and that they are coming together again. When Lee's mother took him to boarding school, she says that it was better because if Lee had not gone, he would not have liked her much later. Lee's mother was afraid that if Lee had stayed close to her for a long time, he would have grown to dislike her. She knew that taking Lee to boarding school would cause a rift in the family, but she chose this over her son's dislike of her. This decision haunts her to the last of her days, and we see that even after death, the question of his mother allowing him to go to boarding school still seems to trouble Lee. He says that he still at times think about if it had been a mistake to go to boarding school. We can see here that the mind of the author troubled by the idea that his having gone to boarding school had been a mistake.

The family of Didion, her father's family has experienced drifting apart. Didion moves away from the family home and goes to live with her husband. She raises a family with her husband but then goes home. She finds that she is a little strange to the place not having heard the latest developments, so she speaks with her brother about the real estate and gossips on the people they know. It is evident that the family is drifting apart as a visit to her great-aunts reveals that they have started to forget that she has lived in Los Angeles for three years, and they still think she lives in New York.

The concept of drifting apart of families portrayed in these texts shows our society as having loose familial ties. The ease to which characters shift from one family to the next reveals that the binds that tie families are weak. It is also important to note that the members of these families also stick together through their struggles. For example, once Lee's mother becomes sick and is about to die, the family is brought together, and they make huge sacrifices in order to ensure they are together. Lee's sister resigns from her job and his father shortens his hours of work. This shows a society that is strong especially in the face of difficulty and they come together in support of their sick mother (Lee 1-6).

For the two stories, both Lee's mother and Didion portray the concept of motherhood. The two mothers are contrasting when it comes to how they portray the concept of being a mother. For example, the reader does not see Didion as the mother where the life of her child dominates her, she seems to be independent…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Lee, Chang-rae. "Coming home again." What a son remembers when all that is left are memories, (2006): 1-6. Print

Didion, Joan. "On Going Home." Beacon Book of Essays; Contemporary AmericanWomen

(1997): 3-5. Print

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