Essay: Mercy Among the Children

Topics: Family, Archetype, Character Pages: 8 (3240 words) Published: May 23, 2012
Mercy Among The Children is a novel written by David Adams Richards of a family under the influence of poverty and a vicious fate put forth on them years before the novel's plot. In this novel a boy who's name is Lyle recaps his life under the misfortune of his grandfather and father. He takes reader's through the heart wrenching struggles and experience's he faces while growing up. At an early age of 7 Lyle explains his frustration towards his father and how he never stands up for what is right. Throughout the novel Lyle mentions key people in his life that have impacted the story immensely. This novel is developed with the aid of the archetypal theory and ideology. According to Carl Jung’s views on archetypal theory, our knowledge of legends and dreams have all been developed based upon one another's past beliefs. The beliefs that have been instilled in society are these universal characters and symbols that have been developed and influenced through literature. Lyle and his life deal with many archetypes in which help the reader make other assumptions revolved around the characters and situations. The main archetypal character's in the story are the victim and the mother figure. Lyle struggles with the identity of not only his family but himself which leads to the situational archetypes. Finally the archetypal symbols that continually influence Lyle's life are the symbol of darkness and the image of a safe haven. The significance of the archetypes in the novel describes the development and the final outcome of Lyle's life in which the character discovers the emotion he was unable to uncover on his own, happiness. The victim in this novel is set as a main contributing factor throughout the story because it is a direct correlation to Lyle himself; his father. Lyle's father Sydney is victimized in his community all the time, this teaches Lyle to have the strength and courage to stand up for his family in situations that could be detrimental. Even though Sydney was never really a help to Lyle and Lyle only has resentment towards his father Sydney plays a major roll in how Lyle grows up to become a young man. Sydney is manipulated time in and time out without a fight and Lyle chooses not to follow the same path. Sydney is very religious and this leads to his passive personality in standing up for what he believes is right. He has a sense and believes that no matter what God will take care of everything. A victim makes people aware of their surroundings that are conducive of being taken advantage of. “Dear Lyle: You are right of course. All my life i have been a burden to those who see things more clearly than I. I was a burden to my father, and now I am a burden to you and little Autumn. I will stay at work until our debt is paid...Than maybe things will be better. Take care of yourself and Autumn and Percy, and be kind to whoever comes to our door. Love, Dad.” (Page 229) This quotation is explaining how Sydney began to feel after Lyle starts to rebel against his wishes. Sydney felt miniscule to his own son and decides that it is time for change. Change does not mean in the manner of resolving the beliefs to something different but to alter the way Sydney was living his life to make everyone happy. Sydney finds work in another town and moves away from his wife and children leaving Lyle to become the man of the house. Lyle takes charge and begins to make the family a new name and prevents them from harms way. He does lose his way though throughout the novel trying to do things that his father never did. Lyle later realizes that in all his struggles of finding himself his father was always right in his methods of raising Lyle, he was just to passive with letting the wrong people manipulate him. Lyle learns the hard way that it's okay to be different in society but in order to succeed you always need to go back to your old roots for they are the only past that will lead you in the right direction during a time of despair....

Cited: "Archetypes Overview." Docstoc – Documents, Templates, Forms, Ebooks, Papers & Presentations. Web. 23 Dec. 2011. .
"Character Archetypes." Listology. Web. 23 Dec. 2011. .
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Jung, C. G., and Wolfgang Pauli. The Interpretation of Nature and the Psyche. Synchronicity: an Acausal Connecting Principle. [New York]: Pantheon, 1955. Print.
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