October 28, 2013
Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons is the story of a young white girl, Ellen, who shares her life experiences over the course of two years. In that time, both of Ellen’s parents pass away, she moves multiple times to temporary homes until she finally finds a safe welcoming place in a foster home. Ellen’s story is rich because it is told in first person narrative and the readers are given context not only to what Ellen is experiencing, but context of the environment she is experiencing it in. To better understand and analyze Ellen, we can view Ellen, and everyone and everything in the novel from a biopsychosocial and systems perspective.
Everything in existence can be viewed as a system. “A system is a complex whole comprised of component parts that work together in an orderly way, over an extended period of time, toward the achievement of a common goal” (Lesser and Pope, 2010, p. 9). “Systems theory is a set of rules for analyzing how systems operate and relate to one another…” (Lesser and Pope, 2010, p. 9). All systems are dynamic, overlap, impact and interact with each other. The biopsychosocial perspective is the idea to view a person as a part of an environmental system. It is the view that “…the interface between people and their environment is conceptualized as bi-directional: human beings affect the environment and the environment affects individuals and groups” (Long and Holle, 2010, p. 4). Three general systems are the micro-system, the individual, the macro-system, the social, and the meso-system, which mediates between the two former. Ellen is a young, white girl who lives in the south with her mother and father. She has no siblings and is believed to be around the age of nine or ten. Her father is an alcoholic who constantly verbally abuses Ellen and her mother. He neglects his role as a caring father and husband and rather screams and drinks all day. Ellen feels great admiration and love
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