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Perspectives On Childhood In The Glass Castle And The Kite Runner

2024 words - 8 pages

In John Connolly’s novel, The Book of Lost Things, he writes, “for in every adult there dwells the child that was, and in every child there lies the adult that will be”. Does one’s childhood truly have an effect on the person one someday becomes? In Jeannette Walls’ memoir The Glass Castle and Khaled Hosseini’s novel The Kite Runner, this question is tackled through the recounting of Jeannette and Amir’s childhoods from the perspectives of their older, more developed selves. In the novels, an emphasis is placed on the dynamics of the relationships Jeannette and Amir have with their fathers while growing up, and the effects that these relations have on the people they each become. The environment to which they are both exposed as children is also described, and proves to have an influence on the characteristics of Jeannette and Amir’s adult personalities. Finally, through the journeys of other people in Jeannette and Amir’s lives, it is demonstrated that the sustainment of traumatic experiences as a child also has a large influence on the development of one’s character while become an adult. Therefore, through the analysis of the effects of these factors on various characters’ development, it is proven that the experiences and realities that one endures as a child ultimately shape one’s identity in the future.

Firstly, one’s identity is largely influenced by the dynamics of one’s relationship with their father throughout their childhood. These dynamics are often established through the various experiences that one shares with a father while growing up. In The Glass Castle and The Kite Runner, Jeannette and Amir have very different relationships with their fathers as children. However the experiences they share with these men undoubtedly play an influential role in determining the people they both become as adults.

Throughout Jeannette’s childhood in The Glass Castle, her relationship with her father, Rex Walls, is heavily affected by the various facets of his complex character. When sober, Rex is a very intelligent, charismatic man who takes pride in sharing his diverse knowledge with his children and teaching them to embrace life with a fearless attitude. For instance, while the Walls’ are living in Phoenix, Rex impulsively decides to take his family to the zoo after local police officers killed a mountain lion wandering in the city. While there, he leads his children into a cheetah’s cage to pet the creature in order to teach them that “no animal, no matter how big or wild, is dangerous as long as you know what you’re doing” (Walls 106). In the novel, Jeannette recounts this memory with pride and happiness, admiring the fearlessness and calmness she observed in her father around the animal. However, although Jeannette’s perception of her father in that moment is positive, the other visitors at the zoo view Rex as a “crazy drunk man” behaving irresponsibly and recklessly (109). Unfortunately, this behaviour is characteristic of another facet of...

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