Loss Of A Family Member, And Its Effects On The Family

1940 words - 8 pages

Kenji Miyazawa once said, “we must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey”. This quote applies to loss in the fact that when we face a loss we must continue our lives and use the loss to make us stronger. The loss of a family member is always hard to deal with and it affects everyone differently. Some people are open about their feelings and others bottle them up. The loss of a family member does not always refer to a death, but can also refer to an emotional or physical distance put between two people. In “The Shawl” by Louise Erdrich, there is an example of a physical loss and its effects on the family, while in “Bone Black” by Bell Hooks the loss shown is of the emotional kind. It is interesting to view these stories side by side, as they showcase how both types of loss effect the family. In both of the stories, the relationship effected most is that between a parent and child. Of all relationships within a family, usually the closest is that between the parent and child. When this relationship is cut short, or nonexistent it can be devastating to both the child and the parent.
            In “The Shawl” by Louise Erdrich, a father struggles with the pain he feels from the loss of his sister and mother at a very young age. Unfortunately, he deals with this loss later in life by self medicating with alcohol and in turn is lost to his own children. The story begins with the father as a boy; he is separated from his sister because his mother is moving out after it was revealed she is cheating on his father. The boy stays with his father but is devastated when his mother and sister leave . When his sister and mother leave, the boy chases them until he is exhausted and cannot go any farther. The boy then nearly passes out in the snow, but his father comes to save him. The boy explains to his father about the “manidoogs”, or spirits, he saw in the woods. When the father realizes that what the boy saw was not spirits but actual wolves he runs back into the woods to try to kill the wolves. When the father found the wolves tracks, he followed them until “he could see where the pack, desperate, had tried to slash the tendons of the horses legs”(Erdrich 382). The father saw what was left of the daughters shawl and it became apparent to him that she was sacrificed from the wagon to save the rest of the group. The father doesn't tell his son the truth of what happened in those woods until the father is on his death-bed many years later. When the boy finally knew the truth, “he knew that this broken place inside him would not be mended, except by some terrible means” (Erdrich 382).
The story fast forwards and the boy is now married with three children. Until his wife died, “the only time [he] touched the “ishkode waaboo” was on an occasional weekend”(Erdrich 383). According to his son, when his wife died the father started “the heavy sort of drinking, the continuous drinking, where we were left alone in the house for days” (Erdrich 383). The...

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