The Contrasting Family Dynamics Between Grapes Of Wrath And The Mountains Echoed

6264 words - 26 pages

The social contexts, experiences, and challenges one face have a profound impact on the development of one’s identity. The Grapes Of Wrath ( GoW, 1939), a novel set in the 1930s, Great Depression era by John Steinbeck, and And The Mountains Echoed (ATME, 2013 ) a multigenerational novel by Khaled Hosseini , both explore this factor. The contrasting family dynamics within the two books demonstrate and the diverse effect familial bonds have on the development of one’s character and sense of self. Both books also explore how the adversities encountered throughout life can be overcome by hope and strong familial bonds. However, Hosseini’s ATME also emphasises that some elements of life are beyond the jurisdiction of humanity, which has an adverse impact on the characters’ view of oneself.

 In The Grapes of Wrath, changing family dynamics, profound ties and the nuanced relationships one holds are explored to demonstrate the influence t they have on the development of one's values and character through times of adversity. The family unit of the Joad’s within the book also shift from patriarchal to matriarchal which has a profound impact on the characters. The book opens in 1930s, Dust Bowl USA; during this period, society was predominantly male governed. However, as the novel progressed, male characters became unable to provide for the family, which required Ma, a traditionally powerless woman figure, to assume the role as the head of the family. This emboldened Ma to develop into a tenacious, volatile character who took control in a highly patriarchal society, " She seemed to know, to accept, to welcome her position, the citadel of the family, the strong place that could not be taken. ," where the use of a metaphor emphasizes how her calm, unflappable strength binds the family together. This idea is further reinforced as the Joads continue on their journey. Due to the challenges they encounter, the family gains a deeper understanding over the importance of familial bonds, whose love and support of one another keeps the family from abandoning hope through the many hardships they face. This influences the family members to reach out and embrace all of mankind as a family, illustrated in ‘at one time all we cared for was the family. Now we care for anybody. The worse things get the more we've got to do for each other,’ where the juxtaposition of 'at one time' and 'now' highlights the changing family dynamics and the impact of this on the characters. This shift of family dynamics demonstrates how family is not defined by genetics but their loyalty and devotion to each other and in the face of adversity, the livelihood of the people depends upon their union which also holds a significant weight on the growth of one’s character.

Similarly, contrasting family dynamics are also explored within And the Mountains Echoed to demonstrate influence familial bonds have on one’s sense of self. However, in contrast to GoW, Hosseini stresses the...

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