Eng 473_Lecture Reading_Domestic Fiction

Eng 473_Lecture Reading_Domestic Fiction - v V ,, h _ l: 4 H

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Unformatted text preview: v V ,, h _ l: 4 H EsseyitialElements of Domestic FiCtiO‘lfL . Domestic fictions ‘a re “inside”, stories: Unlike narrativesof adventure, fantasy, and school life, in which the child character’s maturation often occurs outside the h V ~ _ and away from the familiar, indomestic fiction the%home;and family remain 06 to the narrative. Thehomeprovides the-setting of thestory; its drama and conflicts - . take place between family members Within theihousehold, aswell as within the self. xThuS,vaI' example, in. Louisa May Alcott’s Little-,Women (1868,—69),va story about flawed and self-centered girls learning to be cheerful, fulfilled,vhardworking women, 3 - .v .f- the essentialaction occurs Within the parlor and Within each girl as her characteristic M V V -- flaws areinamed and then negotiated-and c onquered through the course of the novel“ *r 'Little Women ~i-s a touchstone text,=enco ‘ ofdorne’sticfiction: a focu ome i" ntral -‘,' so that these hard daysneed not be wasted. -I know they i will remember alliI said‘tosthem,: that they will be» loving children to you, will do their cdutyfaithfully,fight'theirbosomenemies bravely; and-conquer themselvesso beau- :u: tifullythat-‘whefi I comeback to them I may be’fOnder andprouder thanrever of my, ‘ ' little women.” The girls absorb this messageéand, with the help of their mother, learn -' to, school :their ambitibns and desires so as .to honor‘home Evaluesgclose affective ' relations'hipsan‘d duty to others—above all else. _ ' ' ,Alcott?s popularchildren’s books» set a‘ ne ' ‘inspired'otlher'nineteentht and early- . . , , _ .r .a-vd wgstandard :for' domestic. fiction and twentieth-century writers forxgirlsr, including {Ethel Turner in Australia and Lucy-Maud.» Montgomery: inCan'ada.’ Alcott felt that {the :nucl‘earw'family provided the bountiful nourishment that fed the character and '1 'v'enabled affective bonds’to form. The re rdssofzextrafangfiallifeggfiggdby experi- .2 and \ politics were no more thanTasteless substitutes. This core belief is reflectedain Alcott-’5 conduct toward her own’ family members—she remained ' r life 'and sawxnieeting'their physical and emotional needs well as in the plots and settings of her novels.=*\N'hen, at _.of'Li_ttle Women, a middle-aged, domestic Jo March Bhaer at familiesiare the most beautiful things in; all the worldl,” 'the end of the second part *9" ‘i' -> axprocflai'ms, :“I: do think‘t-h 2067 2068 DOMESTIC FICTION J narratives of the nineteenth century, a . WW... literature attempts to answer thro h essential premise of realistic do V tiner described as “fractured,” “blended,” “ United States; patternsiin other West despite this historical alteration in the child is b w“ the ‘spec1fic actions itental s Varyfignmwwastum century through the mid—tmfi or explore good conduct in terms of personal r gender roles or reli ious'feelin domestic fiction is to demonstrat ora sons at every turn of the p \ cerned with communicatin _ _ , fantasy, poetry, animal stories, . , and so forth—concerns a child or an anthropomorphized as inmthe popular “orphan child” _ assttegatsj§flash?éfiLaefiaerKWd. Is-an important question that much of childre—nis wug, narrative. One response can be mestichfiction: the best lace for a chi x... found in an ld to grow up as recently as 1970). As a result, more than half of ow. grow up' in single-parent households; 24 percent of , while 2 percent live with their fathers; . , peers or to gangs to provi love and support. No wonder that the once-upon-a—time nuclearfamily is now rou- at risk,’f and “in transition”; . ern industrialized countries aresimilar. Yet . I nature of the» family, thecore'belief that the est raISffigl‘a‘fEmEIy settlng has not waveredinwpraactice oninrfictitm. Though , thIS belief has neVercbeen-tseriously - n: two hundred years since the first domestic fiction was lot. But in every agmtionis especially con- g life lessons that the child ‘characterflearns. from, or with , embers‘lessons that Will help him orfher’become a happy ,, however) those terms are understoodJn the late. eighteenth rti‘cszETfh/eselessorw might delimit esponsibilit ' sOCial consciousness, ; in every instance, the purpose behind didactic e the re er methods of raisin wth'ei‘c-hilc'l to be a kind andrres Onsible adult who will fit into-a ce inscla and e 81' l ' a . WIS“ wit/03(4) ./ MW ,, a, W M W K . 0l learning how to negotiate and overcome the fears associated with growing up. In Beverly Cleary’s Ramona and Her Father (1977), for example, a minor inCident—the cat Picky-picky, rejecting the cheaper food'newly forced on him by the family’s strait— ened circumstances,~eats and ruins a newly carved jack-o-lantern—becomes an opportunity to raise more serious concerns about family finances and, most signifi- cantly, about the effects of smoking cigarettes. As a troubled Ramona settles back into bed after the quarrel ends, she wonders, “Didn’t grown-ups think children worried about anything but jack-o’-lanterns? Didn’t they know children worried about grown-ups?” In contemporary domestic fiction about realistic families, the adult— mandated strict codes of behavior and unishments for error tend to be r, placedby the child’s greater participation in his or her own maturation Home, and what transpires within it, ismof domesticfiction. The orphan tale was especially. resonant in the nineteenth century, but the story of the lonely child searching for a home and a family to go with it—or accepting the home and family on offer—still appeals to children today. Charles Dickens’s novels about child characters,l though published for a family audience rather than forsyoung read- ers alone, define the genre. These novels are fille " h memorable characters who, together with orphaned youth, form nusual famil group ' examples include the formidable Betsey Trotwood, the cOnfused ML, Dick, and the orphan David Copper—. field (DavidCopperfield, I849—50)y;/the gentle blacksmith Joe, the apoplectic Mrs. Joe Gargery, and the orphan Pip (Great Expectations, 1861); Little Nell Trent and her grandfather (The Old Curiosity ‘Shop, 1841); and, of course, the oft-maligned: and long-suffering orphan Oliver Twist (Oliver Twist, 1838), whose “family” radically shifts from the highly inappropriate‘(a gang of thieves) to, finally, he perfectly suit— able (Oliver’s previously unknown relatives). (WM M ~~> In Christopher Paul Curtis’s Bud, Not Buddy (1999), a powerful contemporary orphan talevset in Michigan in’ the 1930s,: ten—year-old Budruns away from an orphanage .in search of‘his father, convinced that the flier announcing the appearance in Flint Of the jazz trio “Herman E. Calloway and the Dusky'Devastatlpyf, e Depression”~holds the key to his father’svidentity. Although at the end’of garga grateful, Bud finds (both a grandfather and a: family in the form of his gran er’s jazz band, just as important is his realization that his mother resides not within'the mementos he has carried with him in a battered suitcase but within his-memory of- her loving presence: “I was carrying Momma inside me and there wasn’t anyone or anything that could take away from that or add to it either.” Unlike in Dickens’s versions, in contemporary orphan tales emotional epiphanies rather than fleefle; rior social benefit bestowed by a “legitimate” familxasspage the child’s feelings‘vof abandonment and betrayal. ' v . '- ' 7 - Learning Lessons within the Home: ReligiOfi and ,Moml Authority Early‘domestic fiction focuses on teaching the child to avoid being “childish”; more recent Works Celebrate childishness as natural, at the same time demonstrating from the‘child’s perspective—often using humor—how the pains=and joys» of childhood can be overcome or appreciated. This difference in the treatment of child characters Within the family and in the lessons they learn arises directly from fundamentally different attitudes toward, children, Viewed at one extreme as fallen and imbued with original sin and at the other as innocent and pureI'DidaCtic domestic fiction com— municates its lessons through disciplining the child; the discipline can be exerted by eXtérnal forces (God, parents, neighbors, the law, clergy, and/death) or can be‘self— inflicted (as illness or as feelings of guilt, shame, and fear). ' 2069. M INTRODUCTION 2070. ' ' In';the;Evangellcal writer Mary Martha Sherwoodls; The History of the Fairchild DOMESTIC I Family (1 8:1 8), the family.members~father, mother and their three youno child FICTION Lucy, Emily and Henry—live tooether With their tw ren , heav- e father’s sermons andmoralizing, which all take place, within the home, help underscore that the domestic settin ' ' g l g 18 ideal for learni WKW Q ‘ lissoEs. Tilie Sunction, ofvthe nuclear family in-early examples of domestic fiction I: , IS eav1 ' ' ‘ ' ' ' ’ QV K/p \ between Gyd, idgcfilc work demonstrates, 1s to mlrror the paternal relationshi Q a \V NW\ 0 an umanr _ : thevdeity (or father) possesses ultimate control over his- is natural, they-behave badly. They feel? ' ' ’ ’ bUE sometimes, as from thepantry,‘ and 'argue-andf‘ph-ysically fig ‘ . her beloved; dolla second time, for exa VVL apiece of string and calls it a; thief; M . :Chlldhood, disobedience is a: articula, f f - ' ' V l 6W fk Henry/that fathersstand in‘ th P r ocus Q 'the t'eth ML Fa'lrchlld emlnds‘ e place of Godtotherr children an us‘t be obe OF Ami1 as the :noveldemonstrates, the consequences for failing to obey parental ditta suc as; you VVlll learn Latin or ‘you Wlll not play with matches are dire the first them‘mightily, highlighting im (fiatea’ofr'eaehdhildiaThe, poor and 'close-knitsTrueman family isisuffused-awith the omest1c.v1rtues of hardWOrk,‘ modesty,- piety, and affection, and their-child dies with his soulguaranteed-to God- the wealth ' ’ ' , ,5 , , x , waobles‘leavetheir ch'ld" :th’ ' * ' servant: while they pursueworldly pleasures, I l m e care Of a , her older'sister- Jo paces and urie thather loss will;bezgreate'r, “Beth is my conscience, and I can’t give ernalized in the figure of her quiet sister er a moral exemplar Vtoseveryone-v around than anyoneselsre’s in thefamily if Beth dies: her up; I can’t! I' can’tl”Jo’s'c‘onsc'ience is'ext whoseVmeek‘ness and self-sacrifices make h ,.,‘ at Wt, WW / «0 K W\ N” educators suchas ~Maria:Edgeworth set their stories for children within theihOmev 2071. and'family, just asiSJherwood andcthe Evangelicals woulddo 'a ibit:later, yet. these; works stress maternal rather than paternal'elements in thefamily. Inrother. examples I ,, of domestic fiction—in particular those that rely on- a maternal-:pre'ceptor, such as‘», fill Mary WollstOne'craft’s Original Stories fromReal Ufa-With. C:on17ersations,z Calculated , (\OC/ toaReg'ulate ‘the‘Afiections, and Form theMindvto Truth and,Gooolness.('l 7-88; illus: WW3 \‘ 1L4”, triated, 1791»).—thevfamily'groupfunctions‘as a microcosm ofboth'theisocial and the, W“ {l l- \( \ C 5: spiritual:onrldJWollstoneoraft; joined other women writers, including-Madame dei { lb Genlis,.Lady’Eleanor Fenn,-:,Sarah5Trimmer, Dorothy Kilner,‘ and Hannah'More, in; l 9 Ool l penning storiesabout girls.._that foreground female experiences and suchconventional (7 , C\,V strengths as nurturing;- empathy, and caretaking» Mrs: Mason, the mother/goVern'ess \l J stand—in of WollStonecraft’s Original Stories, modeled o‘nrsuch figures as the Baroness delmane and the-.Marquise de Clémire' in MadamerdesGenlis’s Adelaide and Theo» dare (3 vols., 1782) and Tales of the Castle (3 vols., 1784), does more than edUcate andig'uidezherpupils,’ Mary and-Caroline as: a maternal'chicator; .she also; through Mu" j<()\ her honesty, acts-of charity, and ,resignation,‘,sjerVes::a‘s an upright and righteous CW ,l ex'amplethat the-<commun' '- hole wouldvdowellto emulate; » - CU ' a \\ 'V\ Vndeedpthe communityraSrfamilj/i 'ani'deal promoted iii-much domestic fiction ~ f/ l V for: childrenx-In *late—eing—entfiland- early-nineteenth~c_éntury family? stories suchras Edgeworth’s~“Lazy LaWrence’l .»(1~796),; Sh'erwood’s Fairchildean/Lily, andThomas. INTRODUCTION- Day’s The Histo1y2 of; Sandfofd and M ertdn (3 vols.,”1783-'—89), the poor or lovver-class l V\ families, are often well—scrubbed, orderly, sober,.pious, and competent, earning social Vl/V respect in'part beCau-se theyare cement in their‘ lace and: rateful to their “betters‘.” 0 Thus, the happy=avillage-.functionstras‘ a family in which the squire, his benevolent lady, and the sVillagerS'area‘ssigned- theroles, respectively, of pater-~ and 'mate1fotmilias and- of/dePende-nt children: i t ;‘ ., r: ; ».; v _, =24" ' s 1 a; . z 0‘10 :; Although‘parentsand parent figures'vare vofterigthex mouthpiecesmf moral? lessons: ; /( y in:ithenearlziestkexamples-ofodi-daetic:domestijfictioh,sometimes-it is the child'ror " \ childlikevfigureésueh as: Beth: March; or: any of-t'heiapious children who populate Mary Louisa Charlesworthls best-selling Ministering Children: :*A Tale'Dedicateol to at W 0 Childhoodr;(1854),vor Frances'Hodgson Burnett’s Editha?iinr:llEditha’s'iBurglar” C (13“880)~$whoset Wisdom». selflessness, rand-,isensitivebehavionreveal the weaknesses- of those who surround him or- her—aespecially the; adults; Sentimental .tales-ithat showcase the power of the :saintly or-perfectly innocent child»toyconvert:faultyadults, orsto’ compensate-forg’their: corrupt WorldlineSS, hadaap’articular; vogue: *at- the? begin- ningiof: the- twentieth, century, though their rootsare;.in=:~much«earlier:literature; L.- M; Montgomery,~».best—known for her seriesof domestic‘novels about Anne Shirley, the unconventional and lively Prince Edward .Island orphan'first introduced inAnne of Green Gables (1908), carries on this tradition in her short story “Each in His Own Tongue” (1912), in which a severe minister misguidedlygattempts to prevent his grandson frOm "performing 'iiiiisicf' Presiding over a" deathbed at which he can offer no consolation, in the face of a faith‘andrgenerosity- vastly superior to, his Own/the minister bows-'ztovhis ,feminized grandson’s-greater {abilities to provide'comfort to the. suffering. :Thefsecular. yet pure. souls of Anne Shirley: and Pollyanna Whittier (the title 'character- of Eleanor H.: Porterls novel POllyanna, 31913:); similarly enliven and instructeveryone around them.:“u3::;u v a . . . . r , . . , iiThegseriesof: stories, poems-,3 and dialogues meant» for “theinstruction. and a-musea mént-of young ,p'ersons,’-’ Evenings at Home (16 ivols.‘, 1792—96) , written byJohn Aikin With the'assistancelof his ‘sister, Anna. Laetitia Ba’rbauld,set a standard for domestic, fnor-a1:tales~.,,.The‘s‘e popularrstories about domestic life'an‘d scientific inquiry-con- came _well¥kn0wn . she helped create) called Lessons for Children Education (2 vols., rethought “education Tom Sauryer (1876) about the scamp Tomvand his escapades on the Mississippi frontier or Thomas Bailey Aldrich’s The Story of a Bad Boy (1869), Offer some of the same messages about honoring» family tiesandaffectiverelationships while at the same time self—consciously and humorously poking fun at sober—minded moral tales for‘Ch-j'ldren;. . , , . _ , ~ , , - _ v . The narrator of' The Storyof a Bad Boy, for example, first clearly sets his boyhood self apart from the heroes of typical children’s fare: “I call my story the story of a bad boy, partly to distinguish myself from those faultless young gentlemen who generally figure in narratives of this kind, and partly because Iireally wasnot a cherub. . . .71 didn’t want toibe an angel and with the angels stand. . . . In short, 11 was areal human boy, such as you may meet anywhere in New England, and no more like the impos- sible iboy in’ai storybook than a sound orange is like one that has been sucked dry.” Ethel Turner’s‘Seven‘ Little Australians (I894) similarly begins, “If you imaginerryouv are'going to read of model children, with perhaps a naughtil ~inclined one to point a moral, you had better lay doWn the‘book immediately and betake‘yourself to Sand— ford and Merton, or similar standard juvenile works. Not one‘of the seven is really good, for the very eXCeIlentreason that Australian children never are.” Tom Bailey andTom 'Sawyerboth run away from home—to be met, on their return-by scenes of death (the tragic death of Tom Bailey’s beléved father, ‘whom‘Tom had not seen in two years,':and the comic funeral of Tom Sawyer himself); invSeven Little Australians, bykontra'st, the tomboy Judy runs away from school to home and must be hidden from her tyrannical father, who would send her back; The illness she suffers,- brought on by exhaustion after she walks hundreds of miles, prefigures *her death lat novel; V ' ' *" ' 1 ' I : : V . . r ‘From the'late‘ninetee‘nth century until today,cd0‘mesticfiction'has'become the special province, both in its emphasis on female characters and in its readership, of girls; I'n‘the Victorian‘dor'nestic novel for girls, the happiness and comforts of life are circumscribed by- the domestic and everyday. Other possible goods—'—ambition, Wealth, fame—are not worth pursuing, as their delights are revealed to be transient- or_ illusory. The parameters of morally salubrious girls’ fiction emerge from‘and are underscored by domestic fiction itself. Turner’s opening disclaimer inSeven Little Australians, notwithstanding, her refreshingly Unsentimental novel (the father is a bully, the stepmother is just out of childhood herself, and Judy’s tragic death serves no-religious or moral purpose) also conforms to conventional expectations of “good” gendered behavior. When Meg, the eldest of the seven children, disdains'the “whole; some fare” that to that point had constituted her literary education—the works of th‘e’British writer Charlotte Yonge and'the Americans Alcott and Elizabeth Wetherell (the pseudonym of Susan Warner, author of the sentimental,best—selling The Wide, Wide World, 1850)—in favor of the'romance‘stories supplied by her new “fast” com- panion, thereader'realizesthat Meg’s reputation as a virtuous and sexually innocent girl-is in Some danger. Yonge’é‘morally upright novels are. similarly admired in Alcott’s March family chronicles; as Gillian Avery observesvin? Childhdod’s’Pattern, Yonge’s girl’sy‘,with their “ardent dutifuln'"ess, theirrself—sacrificin’g devotion to parents, and the happiness they feel in the'companionship'of their brothers and sisters,” helped for-' mulate an inspiring ideal of middle-class girlhood that heldsway'throughout the? nineteenth century. » ~ ‘ '7 ' . . ~ r ' In, her 1869 review “Children’s Literature of the Last Century,” published in Mac- millan’s Magazine, Yonge disparaged; the “Rational Dame,” well known from tales by Edgeworthvand Wollstonecraft,'as “intolerany dull and dreary” to “modern eyes.” Yet, hé‘r family-stories, celebrating h’omelike/feminine arts- suchas cooking, child care, er in the 2073 % INTRODUCTION V May, a headstrong andi the pleasuresof scholarship and the d .9 embrace wholesomafiouseworks . V ,fl’” .' . -,- Suc ~renunc1ation mmwmwmgwwmvmwmm ntelli- tales, timeispent makingrthe'fragile basket, the beautiful patchwork, or the work of ar’tr:is:st01en frdmdomesticvduties; The cost of this inattention' pro'vestoo‘ highffor these girl=characters as they le'arn’thrbughfexperience tovembrace varioiJS domestic Virtues-and'to be happie‘r'for limiting.-theirxambitions to the home: .1 . ' ' " . . . _ Ham Ferrifliésiifi: Series Fiction . v , To ‘theirfireaders’: and :publishers’ delight, many of the most successful nineteenth; and) early-twentieth-centuryauthorsof domestic fiction c‘ontinued‘the‘stories of their beloved protagonists or families in book after book. American authors of series include Louisa May Alcott, with four workscentered on the March girls (1868—86); Harriet M. Lothrop (writing as Margaret, Sidney), ‘whio chronicled the exploits of the fatherl'e'ss‘rPepper‘family'in‘twelve‘b‘ooks (1881—1916); MarthaFinley (writingeas Martha .Farquharson'),Whotraced the ‘life’ of Elsie iDinsmore from girl to grandmother in‘Itwenty—eight books (1867—_17905);zand~ SarahChauncey Woolsey (writing as Susan Geoli‘d'ge), with the five—book What Katy/Didrvseries (4873—90). Prdbablythe longesti running: series 'in children’s literature, Whichincludes more than a'hundred ‘ti’tles published between 19041and :1992, .features:the. Bobbse'yi'Twins; Created: ’by the master of syndicated fiction, Edward Stratemeyer (whowrotei thevfirst=voluine)‘,; these books about; two sets» of twins,rwritten':by a number'of authors but ‘alwayszapp'earin'g under the? name‘of Laura Leer-5Hope,vhave'zbeen periodically updated and revisedi Everyday events and mild mysteries fill these bland et comfortin volumes about $1 ‘li'ngirel’ationships and family'life."~ r ~ v “2 ‘ r , » --J.-Serie's:wereequallypopular'outsidethe United StatesiMary Grant Bruce‘, an Au‘si tralian, wrote fifteen Bill‘abong‘novels about the Linton‘fa statio‘ni (1910442); in Canada, ‘ 'M‘. Montgomery wrote t teni'volumes Tabout‘ Anne Shirley (1908439): Similarly, Blyton,who has'been called'the best—selling Children’s a stereotypical (white). middle-class children in (11‘949—6'33andthe :Fa-mOus Five (1942—63); Though‘ the‘:children generally. leave their“ actualuhome, their. domes-tic life style wt'ravels’with them: and 'is replicated wherever» they go.'Blyton-’sv‘ eXCiting,-‘fast—paced .storie's’r create a kindofvdomestic fan— tasy‘yvorld'imwhich childreneeat','play,- Squabble, solvem‘ysteries,‘ and enjoy'advenv tures with'lit-tle'interferenCe from adults." "a r ’v " .r 5 ' H l " a " : r r wlnieed, in this: limited space‘iizt is’possible' only t03touch on themanyvveIl-written series isorpopulatandfprominentwithin twentieth-century children’s literatureA few of the characterswhoin‘habit the§make-b‘e‘lieve neighborhoods of these'beloved happy families are Eleanor Estes’s‘ Moffats,‘ Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Ray and her friends Tacy’an‘d Tib, ‘Lois Lowry’s Anastasia Krupnik, and Paula Dariziger’s Amber BroWn; Thespunky; annoying, rand-creative Ramona of Beverlyz‘Cleary’s long-running series deserves aspe‘Cia] mention, She firstxappeare’d as a minor charac‘ter'inCleary’sbooks about asuburban boy,*'H‘enry Hugginsgbut‘in Beezus‘ and Ramona (1955) became the star of her own seriocomic v‘seri installment, ' was published " in ~1999',~for'ty- that? the constitution of th little‘vov'er. time: A ’ ' ‘ inily, set on a remote sheep W0 series in addition to. her in Britain, the prolific Enid uthOrZOf‘all time,'wrote about popular series such as the Secret Seven iRamona es. Ramona’s 'World, probably its final four years after the first, demonstrating e twentieth—century happy~ American familyvhas changed "‘“C‘on‘ventionally, therdornestic story'ser'ies‘ has showcased white middle- dr-upper- Class familiesfiiHowever, the genre has come to reflect ethnic, racial, and class diVer- Sity~though still more change-would bewelcome here. The Ramona: books,.for example, offerra steady look at. the hurdles that unemployment and underemploymen‘t INTRODUCTION 0 2075 “x 2076 FICTION DOMESTIC ; ‘ / / present for a growing family. and at the compromises the family must make together in order to get through a difficult time. The All—of—a-Kind Family series of five books (1951—78) by Sydney Taylor concerns a large jevvish immigrant family living on New York City’s Lower EastSide during the ,early’twentieth century. The five sisters and their baby brother encounter numerous small troubles against a background of jew- ish culture, holidays, and traditions. Mildred, Taylor’s award—winning cycle of books is set during the Depression: in a' Mississippi community deeply divided by racism suspicion, and jealousy; it focuses on - the. Logans, a close-knit African American; family that survives every challenge mounted by «the unjust world of white privilege, Families/and society; New Views Fiction such as Mildred Taylor’s books about the Logans emphasize the family’s role asahaven from .the-pgessures endinjustices of thezworld..As they share hurts and celebrate victories, however small and hard—won, family members draw together and become better;able to handle race—.or. class:based.co'nflict with a Wider community that rejects-them. Many children’s booksfocus on the insults of the past and how they affected individual families. For example, Joy‘K‘o’gawa’s Naomi’s Road (1986) narratesthe-story of ajapanese Canadian girl and the-fracture of her family during World War II, whenjapanese Canadians were sent to internment camps and made to work on farms and on construction crews building roads through the Rocky Mountains. . - , « ‘ .- .. _ . -: ' v », ’ Some novels draw on aspects of history overlooked .‘inmainstream accounts. Pam Mufioz Ryan’s Esperanza Rising (2000) is set against the backdrOp of Mexican “repa- triation,” whichrsent 450,000 unwilling Mexicans and MeXican Americans to Mexico in a futile- attempt to solve the problem of rampant Unemployment in California duringithe Depression. Esperanza is a spoiled young-teen who faces first tragedy-in Mexico—her wealthy father’s death by bandits—and then multiple hardships in Cal’— ifornia, where she flees; with her mother and joins other Mexicans, living hand to mouth as fieldrworkers. Esperanza’s fall in social status leads :ultimatelyto rising self- Satisfaction and the respect of her loving extendedfamily. Other works, personalize well-known events. Christopher Paul Curtis combines humor with a serious history lesson in The Watsons Go toBirmingham—1963 (1995).»VVhenthe lively, squabbling Watson family of Flint, Michigan, travels to Alabama to spend the'sum'mer with Grandma Sands, its members; are unwillingly thrust- into the middle .oflone of the most dramatic and tragic events of the civil rights era: the bombing of the, Sixteenth Street BaptistChurch, which killed four girls and injured twenty others. The family— especially the middle child, Kenny—like the African American community more gen- erally, is traumatized by the deaths and the violence that followed. Yet with the help Of his older brother, Kenny rejects the role of victim and-attempts to heal the wounds that hatred creates. These novels'stress that the nuclear; family and the family formed My united in its struggleiforzfreedom are crucialml- opggtgmmweglw; - I v. Even in those‘worksof family fiction that include suchserious themeszas,cultural conflict, alienation, and assimilation, humor Oftenremains an important ingredient In Roch Carrier’s autobiographical short story “The Hockey Sweater”.(lE97,9)',>Ql‘l'gi' nally published in French, young Roch’s dignifiedvFrench Canadian mother refuses to bOW to pressures- to conform,~Whether they come from her son Or'from the'fdom' inant English—speaking culture. Rochis response is another moment of humorous culturalresistance. Cross-cultural conflict is at the center of Lensey Namioka’siYang the Youngest and His Terrible Ear (1992). Neitherthe novel’s narrator, Yingtao Yang, nor his best friend, Matthew Connor, fit easily'within their respective families; in particular, neither father understands or values his son’s passion for baseball or for music, respectively.-Yet this conflict and the misunderstandings that inevitably arise as the immigrant .Yang family adjusts to American suburban life and the Connor family'learns about Chinese culture are resolved throughfunny scenes described with sensitivity and good humor. . . . s , . 1 . ., Some family stories focus on the child’s desire to blend—in appearance, traditions, and abilities—into the majority around them. Ten—year-old Miguel, "in:How.Tia Lola Came to (Visit) Stay (2001) by Julia Alvarez, already in pain because of hisparents’ decision to divorce and the difficulty of adjusting to a new school, is at first-embar: rassed by his colorful aunt With an outsize personality. But-along with the chilly Vermonters, Miguel soon learns tO appreciate his aunt’s warmth and’his Dominican heritagefiflp” ._ ' ' , . ' Although. the imagesiof the family promoted by Western popular culture-are pow- erful and narrowly defined—a loving'domestic (white) mother. and a stable providing (white) father, raising? two children together in the suburbs—this single version is of course an illusion. Families everywhere have always beenmorecflexible,-'troubled, and complicated than the fantasies offered up on televisionxand in advertisements. In many examples. Of domestic literature from the past, as Suzanne» Bunkers points out in “- ‘We are not the Cleavers’: Images of Nontraditional Families-in Childrenfs Literature’,’ (1992), 'the successful conclusion Of the plot relies On the restoration Of the “model” family by reconstituting thefleterosexual, mmt contemporary children’s literature, especially from the l970s.Onward,.zhasincreas— ingly reflected the realities of family life in stories about children living with single parents, divorced parents, gay parents, or parents Of‘ different races. Indeed, as the demographics cited above make clear,”most children today 'do not grow up within “traditional” families. . ' The initial impetus behind publishing books about divorce, stepfamilies, or adop- tion was to help children understand that a broad rangeof families are “normal.” Yet the titles of some of these early books reveal the ideology Of “difference” undergirding their earnest stories: for example, Helen F..Daringer?s'Adopted Jane (1947), Beth Goff’s I/Vhere Is Daddy? The Story of a Divorce (11969), and Peggy Mann’s My Dad Lives in a Downtown Hotel (1973). While more recent books may maintain a bib— liotherapeutic function for some young readers, they are less self-conscious; rather than actively defending the legitimacy Of the nontraditional family, they tend to set forth a variety of family structures without comment or judgment. ’ ' . = Domesticrfiction that features, or includes as a matter of course, homosexual youth or. parents is more often intended for young adults than for'younger readers or pre- readers; yet Lesléa Newman’s picturebook Heather Has Two Mommies (1989, rev. ed. 2000), whose protagonist, conceived .bymeans of artificial»insemination, is born to a lesbian couple, remains perhaps themost widely known (or infamous) example of domestic fiction with a, gaytheme. ,Otherpicture books and novels have followed Heather’s example. Francesca: Lia Block’s fairy, tale-:for young adults, 'Weetzie Bat (1989), describes the creation of a large'Los Angeles- family thatLeventually includes the punk teen Weetzie; her lover; Dirk and Duck, their gay best friends; Weetzie’s baby, Cherokee, whose father is probably Dirk' oeruck; and her lover’s baby With another woman. As;the= novel ends, Weetzie surveys her familyaround the dinner table and! thinks, “But 'loveand disease are both like electricity. . . .. They are always _ there—you can’t see or smell or hear, touch,,or taste them, but. you know they are 2077 INTRODUCTION 2078 DOMESTIC FICTION \_ Alcott andothers had suggested s long'a'go: ., a: xi. 1 i? there like a:current in the air, Wécanichoose ; .'« we can choose to plug into the love current insteadl’, She concludes, ,“Ifldonl’t 'know- about happily ever after. . . but I know about happily.r”5I-:» ? ' 1 * . '. _ , / :Despitecontinuingattacks on Heather and simifarbooks from conservative Amer- ican, groups such as5Focusso‘n the Family andethe Heritage Foundation, which view them as a threat to what they: call traditional American values, there are today no real taboos in domestic fiction for young adults, and few in books for the youngest readers. Family stories now tackle every painful issue imaginable». Whereas in earlier novels'parents dispensed measured. Counsel and acted as admirable role models, in contemporary fictionfthey are not» always heroic orvwise or‘ even competent; in fact, therangerous frailties and all—too—human .qiiali_ties-of;the adults in their lives often create the problems that lead thechildren in the books to suffer and that t sometimes'over'come.’ ' ' -: 7-: 'r ' v V For example, in Jacqueline Woodson’s I Hadn’t Meant to Tell You This (1994) twelve-yeareoldzMariegz a populargirl, befriends Lena, a lonely and bedraggled whi girl: who moves into-Marie’s presperous black? neighborhood. Soon inseparable, Ma and Lena share their grief over-the mOthers they have lost;- Marie’ smother abandoned her family and" Lfenais- mother diedéof breastacancer. Lena; also‘shares a secret with Marie: 'her father has sexually abused her: repeatedly- since her mOther’s death.- Once her fatherr‘beginsltoltouch Lena’s eight-year—old sister, the girls 'vanish and Marie is left to wonder and mourn and carry: on with-her life. Vera:B.‘ Williams’s hybrid picture book/poetrycollection Amber Was-Brave; Essie WasSmart (2001.) sketches in draw- ings and verse! thelives of two children: who spend many hours alone 'While their mother works and their father serves ai jail *sentencevfor forgerygEvoking the many scenes from children’s" literature and‘filmi-efrom vAlcott’s Little Women to'Disney’s animated feature ‘Mulan~(l998)—'_of a-daughter’srsacrifice of her [hair in order to prOVeher love for her; father; Amber=cuts:off her braids so that h a memento of her: ~a: hey only '7 te rie er father can have - Only'I had to cut [my braids] Off, ‘ “ Arnberf‘said,‘ 5* ~ » v1. . ,. n v .i.t0'rSend to:Daddy = 5 , g; ' sohe’ll‘be sure to remember’me. 1.x 1:, Ihad to- >- ~ I W' ‘ :. 3:. And the‘ melodic yetihorrifidhg opening sentence of'Garolyn: Coman’s Whatjamie Saw (1995) unblinkinglyic’onveys the reality and banality ‘ofchi’ld abuse: fi‘When Jamie saw him throw-the baby, saw Van throw the little baby, saw:Van:throwzhis little sister Nin, when Jamie's saw 'Van throw his babyisister' Nin,"?then theymoveda’iijamiC’S mother, Patty-,‘who’miraculou'sly Catches Niri, flees with her children that night to a friend iwho= lets themistay iinthistiny trailer on a logging road,;Jamieand§Patt)freinain nervous, angry, and terrified+of Van’sreappearance and ofltheirio‘Wn seeming pow- erless'ne’ss.‘ They realize they must get'pastl‘ their feariiffztheyxare. to:s'urv§iv.e; and: they do, but-their progress is incremental, Jamie accepts a teacher’s'conéern,::learnszto;ice skate, performs magic tricks,-and finally, :when Van finds the trailer alize‘sitha'tr he was able to isee :Van'”sas he is, ’hot: magnifiedlbyffearsflamie-steindé "by‘sPattLYV 3.5,. Sit“? orders-Van? to g away .forever.“«'Stories about dysfunctional andz'troubléd‘ifamihesIn late—:tWentietha t - and a, 'twentyefirs t-century' domestic :fiction‘ reaffirm: the: tsarictlty‘fof home and thé’lstable and loving familyas- ideals:avVorthrstrivingé'vfor"‘és3EOfiiSay‘Méy Unlike stories such as What Jamie Saw or Bruce Brooks’s “Out” (1992), in which instability, suspicion, and emotional manipulation permeate the relationship between a stepfather and stepson and create tension, happy domestic fiction emphasizes familial unity and the safety and comfort that can be found within the home. In accepting the 2003 Boston Globe—Horn Book Award for Thejamie and Angus Stories (2002), her warm story of a young boy, his stuffed animal, and his loving family, Anne Fine—a British author bestiknown' for such truthful and emotionally demand- ing novels as Step by Wicked Step) (1995) and The Tulip‘Toucl'L (1'996)—praised literature for offering children hope and life choicesiFine explained, “Perhaps you drew the short straw with your own family, surroundings, and supports. But maybe, once you can read or find someone to read to you, learningabout a family like Jamie’s catnoffer the ‘svhafmf light: that shows, a *wayput of a 'darkrplacs-‘Wé know from, our own eXperience,zand that of .othersghqw very Oftehfiven the unspoken ‘:I things were like that for‘me’ has beentranslated, by sheer human grit and determi- nation-over years, into ‘but I, have 'made,th'ings very differentvforrmy own children.’,”:-; As the. literary critic Mitzi iMy'ersr-thou-ghtfully; argued in ,“Anecdotesgfromrthe Nursr. ' ,- . v; ’ ” no matter t eir time‘ori- genre “understand that H - e erious writers for chifl‘ ren, childhood“ is about poWer,=’ alancinb the youn; m‘On’S“ need-for ’au‘to'n‘lomg and world-knowledge"? '. . and the-need for home, fora havenjtoreturri to: the'conflicting juvenile rights 'to' i we (still istri'r le to resolve”. T, f '_ 'Vse' inside stories that reflect the p’rot‘e'a‘n shape, idiidésbétli éomfort and challenges of young readers! Moreover, reveal culturaas .well as,» deeply pesonaianxieties and arguments ' about thelnature‘, :of childhood, par ' L H i ' young, ' ndividual a enc and Communal protection that ’ ehting,,,and community responsibility: for‘the. V V - w a 2079 \ INTRODUCTION ...
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Eng 473_Lecture Reading_Domestic Fiction - v V ,, h _ l: 4 H

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