16 November 2013
William D. Tammeus, a journalist, once wrote that “You don’t really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around – and why his parents will always wave back.” This quote beautifully paints a picture of the natural love present between a parent and child. However, sometimes this love becomes obscured and a disconnection occurs that prevents the parent from empathy. The stories “Two Kinds, and “The Rocking Horse Winner” show that a parent’s lack of empathy impacts the child’s search for the self in the following phases: first, the search for the self is stunted and replaced with a mantra; second, the mantra intensifies; in the last stage, the consequences are revealed. After the first conversation between Paul and Hester, his mother, in “The Rocking Horse Winner”, Paul’s natural search for the self enters the first stage, thus is stunted and replaced with a mantra. The boy’s search for the self is inhibited so quickly within the story that the reader barely gets to see it except for a glimpse at the very beginning when he curiously asks, “Why don’t we keep a car of our own” (Lawrence 353)? The mother directs this innocent question into a selfish conversation about luck. This tiny peep is the last sight of Paul’s child-like curiosity as he is led to his rocking horse where his search for the self is replaced by the intensifying mantra for luck. “Now, take me to where there is luck! Now take me" (Lawrence 354)! The empathy-deprived mother however, does not realize that Paul had begun his consuming mantra. Instead, “she did not believe him... she paid no attention to his assertion” (Lawrence 354).
Just like Paul, Jing-mei’s search for the self is stunted and replaced with a mantra because of her mother’s lack of empathy. The daughter’s search for the self begins with exploring her...
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