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Trapped: An Analysis Of "Bowling Night" By Michael Ryan

1013 words - 4 pages

"You're a frigging loser. You're shit. You disgraced me" (234). All eyes are on Michael as he is one more strike away from the perfect score in bowling. Burdened by the pressure, Michael misses the pins and receives the overall score of 267. Even though Michael scores the highest score in the league, his father screams viciously at him. "You choked" (234). In "Bowling Night," the author Michael Ryan, describes a significant moment between his father and him that altered his life. By analyzing Maggie Scarf's essay about the different levels of the family system, the readers can better comprehend the actions of Ryan's father. Scarf's essay, "The Beavers Scale of Family Health and Competence," creates five levels of the family system. The first level is the best optimal family and the fifth level is the extreme worst. Scarf's assertions that in the midrange family, "one is supposed to do what is expected of one- or one feels culpable," and that the severely disturbed family tends to avoid the problem at hand illuminate the reason why Mr. Ryan gives up his dream and why he is an alcoholic. Through this application, we can identify some of the contributing factors of alcoholism at the family level in United States.According to Scarf, in the rule bound family, "what one does is, by and large, what one is supposed to do and what is expected of one- or one feels culpable" (260). By this Scarf means that if an individual does not behave in the way that is socially and morally accepted then the individual would be full of extreme guilt and shame. The family members in this midrange family are controlled by an "invisible referee" (260). The invisible referee comes from the individual's internal control and it dictates what a good person should do. When the person behaves against the code of regulation of a good person, the person will feel culpable. The word "culpable" means deserving of blame or censure as being wrong, evil, improper, or injurious. It implies that defying the rules is viewed as evil and injurious, almost like a criminal, having committed a horrible offense. For instance, my mother orders me to sweep the kitchen floor. I do not feel like sweeping it. However, if I want to be a good daughter, I should obey my mother. In contrast, if I don't follow her orders, then I will be considered a disobedient daughter. Feeling ashamed and embarrassed, I will be unwilling to look her in the eyes. This assertion implies that, one lives by obeying one's conscious instead of one's desires.This assertion helps explain why Mr. Ryan gives up his dreams for his family. Mr. Ryan wants to "play the violin and invent things and live on a desert island in the South Pacific" (230). However Mr. Ryan is working in Bosh Machinery with assembly line workers and welders. Scarf's assertion clarifies that the "invisible referee" imposes that once the individual has a family, he or she is obligated to earn money to take care of the...

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