July 7, 2012
The Effects of Parental Influence in Katherine Mansfield’s “The Garden Party,” and Witi Ihimaera’s “This Life is Weary”
Parenting and role models play an important part helping children grow into healthy adults. Children observe people in their environment and develop mannerisms according to their interactions. “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” is an old, but accurate analogy regarding people and how they compare to their parents. It suggests that apples (children) are relatively similar to where they came from (their parents). In Witi Ihimaera’s “This Life is Weary,” Celia has a strong sense of self and retains her innocence as a child because of positive influence from her parents. In Katherine Mansfield’s “The Garden Party,” Laura battles an on-going internal conflict regarding sense of self and struggles to maintain her compassionate nature because of negligent parents.
Celia’s father, Jack Scott, was a loving parent who cared deeply for his children. The families happiness was at the top of his priority list. In contrast, Mr.Sheridan does not provide adequate parental care for his daughter Laura and is often absent from family interactions. A loving, supportive parent, often produces mentally healthy children. Celia worshipped her father; She thought: “he was the most wonderful, most handsome, most perfect man in the whole world” (Ihimaera 200). She even said: “I shall marry someone just like you,” to her father (Ihimaera 200). Celia had good reason to love her father. Jack Scott supported almost any new activity the children wanted to do, like the Saturday’s they would spend at “The Big House” (Ihimaera 202). Even when the children would “become filled to the brim about the goings on up there [The Big House],” Mr.Scott would still retain his wise mannerisms and remind them “We are all equal in the sight of God” (Ihimaera 200). His humble attitude towards life created a sense of security that the family could feel. Celia noticed that everyone who interacted with Mr.Scott loved and admired him. Mr.Scott was a religious man; he was always calm, cool, and completely submissive to the will of God. He believed nothing was truly up to him and God would decide what was best. After Em Scott had given birth to her third child, the Scott’s doctor said: “Give Em some peace now, lad, and let her body recover from the childbearing” (Ihimaera 201). Mr.Scott replied to the doctor’s suggestion by saying: “It’s not for my want of trying, Doctor, but the babies just seem to come and, if it is God’s will” (Ihimaera 201). Mr.Scott was aware of the class distinctions between his community and those of the upper-class, particularly those who lived at “The Big House.” Many of the working men, that Mr.Scott interacted with, would look upon “The Big House” “with a sense of grievance” (Ihimaera 201). A lesser man would probably succumb to the negative aura within the community, but instead, Mr.Scott shielded his family from its effects. Celia knew: “above all else, he truly believed that Work and Self-improvement would win the changes that all strived for” (Ihimaera 201). Mr.Scott’s philosophical attitude allowed Celia to retain her innocence. She was encouraged to play at “The Big House” and exercise her imagination. Even when Mrs.Scott questioned all the time they “waste” up there, Mr.Scott said: “Who knows? Some of what they [the children] see might rub off on them!” (Ihimaera 202). Jack Scott was the core of his family and had a positive effect on everyone he encountered. He was a great role model and passed on a strong set of values from which Celia could construct her personality. Laura’s father, Mr.Sheridan, is absent in most of Katherine Mansfields “The Garden Party.” Mr.Sheridan does not seem to have much of an impact on any of the children, except his son Laurie, whom he appears to have employed under him. This is typical of the...
Cited: Witi Ihimaera & Katherine Mansfield. Concert of Voices. An Anthology of World Writing in English. 2nd ed. Ed. Victor J. Ramraj. Toronto: Broadview Press, 2009. (pp. 200-209 & 264-274). Print.
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