Other Voices, Other Vistas by Barbara H. Solomon

October 19, 2012
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Filial ties are meant to be unbreakable bonds between the members of a family. They are usually built upon strong foundations of trust and affection, and are maintained at all times, good and bad. However, such relationships may be weakened by external factors, which can debilitate even the most stable kinships. This is especially evidenent the short stories where tradition, rather than love or affection, forms the basis for family relations. In the A meeting in the Dark John’s ties with his family are dominated by the overbearing conventions of Christianity and social taboos. Because of his father’s strict adherence to Christianity, John’s paternal relationship suffers because it is confined within the limits of religion. Because Stanley sinned when he was young, he develops a sense of shame which he harbors throughout his life.When John emulates the sins of his father, Stanley’s overprotective and overbearing attitude become a curse.John is forced to choose between societal acceptance or a forbidden love. Eventually, he is is driven to extreme actions because of the immense stress presssed upon him by his father and society.

In Civil Peace, Religion has an equally significant impact on the family relationship between Johnathan and his family. Jonathan believes that life is meant to be a simple and enjoyable affair. He has unshakeable faith and believes that everything happens for a reason. He is satisfied with position in life because he can find inner peace by trusting in God. Thus, he is able to form a healthy relationship with his family The simplicity of Jonathan’s relationships is expressed through his easy acceptance of fate. His belief is both a blessing and hindrance however. He accepts the robbery of his egg rasher because he believes that even this action was preordinated. His belief translates into a passivity which helps him keep civil peace within his family and community but hampers his ability to act decisively.

On the other hand, In the collector of Treasures, Dikeledi is forced to endure a terrible relationship with her husband but becomes stronger because of it. She lives in an environement where women have inferior gender status and very little authority. Thus, it is socially acceptable for her husband to abandon her and assume no responsiblity in raising their children.However, Dikeledi finds happiness in the face of adversity by independantly working and earning money for her family. She is empowered by her freedom and it gives her a sense of stability that other women do not have. While her neighbors lead happy and unstressfull lives, Dikeledi finds peace through hard work and sacrifice. Her fierce sense of independence and self-worth stem from her tumoultous relationship with her husband. This is illustrated by her actions when the pair briefly reunite. When he makes sexual advances in exchange for money, dikeledi realizes that she will not tolerate her opressed state and kills her husband, despite knowing that she will be convicted. The norms of society and her sexist husband help her develop into a stronger woman

A meeting in the Dark, Civil Peace and A Collector of Small Treasures illustrate the importance of society and its norms within something as intimate as the family itself. Deeply ingrained traditions and beliefs shape and influence relationships in powerful fashion, altering the very fabric of family life.

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