"The Sky Is Gray" by Ernest J. Gaines

Topics: Characteristic, Ernest J. Gaines, Marriage Pages: 2 (429 words) Published: March 7, 2005
Do you know what it takes to raise a family as a single parent? In Ernest J. Gaines "The Sky Is Gray", Octavia finds out the hard way. Set in Louisiana, Octavia is forced to raise her family by herself when her husband is sent off to war. Octavia overcomes the hardships of segregation and poverty while doing so. Octavia shows the characteristics of a good parent by being stern, loving, and independent.

Octavia is a well-rounded character because she is stern. She uses sternness to teach her children to be independent. One way Octavia shows sternness is by not allowing her kids to show weakness or affection, which is "crybaby stuff" (378). She shows the characteristic of sternness again when she makes James kill the redbirds that he caught to play with.. She thought that by doing this she would help James grow up and be able to take care of himself if something happened to her. Octavia is stern when she makes James look straight ahead and act well mannered when in public. In this way she hoped to teach him how to avoid trouble.

Octavia is also a loving parent throughout "The Sky Is Gray". She is concerned about the care of her children and this is how she shows her love. When James has a toothache she takes him to the dentist although they really can't afford it. Octavia shows love when on the way to the dentist, she goes into the hardware store pretending to look at axe handles just to let James get warm. Again, Octavia is loving when she asks James "'you hungry?'"(391). Although James says no because he knows they can't afford it, she knows he is hungry and gets him some food anyways.

Finally, Octavia also shows the characteristic of being independent throughout the story. Octavia shows her independence when she successfully supports a family by herself. She also shows independence when she is confronted by the pimp and she stands up to him. Octavia shows her independence when she is offered a free meal and she responds by saying, "'we don't take no...
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