The Altar of the Family: Identity

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Traditionally, society views males to be strong, aggressive, self-confident and unemotional individuals whilst females play unimportant and demure roles within society. Michael Wilding’s short story, “The Altar of the Family”, tells a tale about a young boy who attempts discovering the ‘correct’ ways of behaving. David, the protagonist, challenges the stereotypical male gender role, and by this the author is able to portray that parental and societal pressure on an individual can seriously damage their selfhood. Third person narration influences the reader to observe all aspects of the text with concern to David. Analysing David and his interactions with the other characters as well as the descriptive language used, positions the readers to question the traditional stereotypical male role. The author mainly uses point of view, figurative language and characterisation as key elements in putting across his message about society and parental opinions having negative affects on individuals. Point of view plays a pivotal role in influencing the viewers to sympathize with David. By the author choosing to narrate in third person, readers are not given a biased view on the protagonist’s situation and therefore their sympathies are derived from their own response to the text and are not manipulated. For example, if the short story were to be narrated by David himself, certain bias may be accompanied and subsequently the readers may not sympathize with him as they may not be sure to whether he may be over reacting, being that he is a child. Also, without third person narration, Wilding would not have been able to show the readers that parental and societal pressure causes problems for an individual; the reader would have only been exposed to the way David deals with the issues caused by the pressure. David’s parents, being traditional people, in terms of their thinking, are very judgemental towards him, particularly his father. The father talks about ‘family honour’ being...
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