Reading great literature can teach a great deal about aspects of life that we are unaware of. In Sharon Olds’ poem “The Victims”, In John Updike short story “A&P”, Edith Wharton novel Ethan Frome, we are given views of characters struggling with various emotions. Like anger, fear, resentment, bitterness, society values and loss of individuality. Letting people to be the causes of all these emotions tend to affect their own life making decisions and choices. Because, all they know is what it is like to have you thoughts messed with. Not having the power in them to do what they please and control their own life.
In Sharon Olds poem “The Victims” it starts off by the speaker revealing the hate they were taught towards their father. Showing that they were taught no respect and wish the worst upon him. They constantly refer to the father by word “You” at the beginning of the poem. “When Mother divorced you, we were glad…. ” (Line 1). These lines show that having a deadbeat father whose bad choices gave a happy and rewarding feeling to his kids. The mother putting all these thoughts into the kids caused them to be unable to build their own feeling towards him. All they knew was to hate, be angry, and resentful. Suddenly in the second half change occurs, where they start referring to him as Father, and start having pity for him. From thinking the mother and children are victims, she changes it to feeling sorry for the father, and him being the victim. Showing that growing up they weren’t able to express their true feelings about him. Now realizing that the mother filled them with negative feelings towards the father. Struggling with individuality in this case because the kid only knew to be drawn to reject his father’s mistakes. Now later in adulthood the kid realized that all the bums out on the street were probably in the same situation as the father. Realizing that society doesn’t value these bums just like they were taught growing up.
In the short story “A&P” by John Updike, it starts off by three girls in a grocery store only wearing bathing suits and catching the eye of 19 year old Sammy.
In the short story Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton, Ethan is a man who had gone through a lot of events in life that caused him setbacks. Living in an unhappy world where he pleases everyone but himself. Frome studied physics in college and would have succeeded as an engineer. But having a sick mom back at home, and a family farm to run, he thought it was his responsibility to head back home and take charge. Only leading to the beginning of his miserable life. After the death of his mother, Frome married a girl named Zeena. Zeena had helped take care of Ethan mom all throughout her sickness. Her being around during a hard time made Ethan fall in love with her. Especially after such a tragedy the thought of being alone scared Ethan. Eventually being the cause of a miserable marriage. Zeena soon herself became ill, which was the reason Mattie her cousin came to live with them to help out around the house. Mattie is young and attractive women. When Mattie came around she brought light to Ethan miserable life. Soon Ethan and Mattie fell in love with each other. Zeena eventually caught on and prevented them from being together.
Ethan had so many opportunities to leave Zeena for Mattie. He never had it him to make such choices. He could have easily sold the farm and ran away with Mattie. He even thought of just leaving by writing a letter to Zeena. But of course he doesn’t have it him to do such a thing. He starts thinking about how Zeena would be left with nothing. Also how it would be unacceptable in his society to do such a thing. His overthinking thoughts show how Ethan has lost his individuality throughout his years in Starkfield. He not letting himself live how he wants because he is always thinking of others and social approvals. When Ethan and Mattie took the last sled ride together, Mattie got into Ethan head about committing suicide. Mattie thought that if they crashed into a tree, they would both escape together. Being another example how Ethan isn’t able to control his own life. Rather than doing things that would make his life better, he endure pain for the lack of individuality. Now dealing with the consequence of being stuck paralyized with Mattie, being taken care of through Zeena.