A Closed Family:
Growth Through Suffering
The novel Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant is one of Tyler's more complex because it involves not only the growth of the mother, Pearl Tull, but each of her children as well. Pearl must except her faults in raising her children, and her children must all face their own loneliness, jealousy, or imperfection. It is in doing this that they find connections to their family. They find growth through suffering.
"Cody Tull, the oldest child and the one most damaged by the failure of his parents' marriage he becomes an aggressive, quarrelsome efficiency expert."(Voelker 126) He feels that it his fault that Beck, the father, left. Especially when they bring up the arrow incident. Cody never really feels like a family as he expresses: "You think were a family
when in particles, torn apart, torn all over the place?"(Tyler 294). He never recovers from his father leaving.
The optimism of Ezra is never noticed by the family. He never let his past affect his life and very little bothered him. The family does not notice his optimism because Cody resented it, Jenny ignored it and Pearl misunderstood it. His optimism is shown when Cody is reflecting on their childhood, about how bad it was and how their mother was a "shrieking witch". Ezra responds, "She wasn't always angry. Really she was angry very seldom, only a few times widely spaced, that happened to stick in your mind"(Tyler 295). Even though Ezra felt his childhood was not that unhappy, he never feel his family is a whole because of Cody's jealousy, Jenny's isolation and Pearl's confusion. "Ezra creates and manages a restaurant that corrects the excessive closeness of his family with an atmosphere that consoles the customer while making no demands."(Volker 126) This was his idealistic home.
"Jenny, the youngest, becomes a pediatrician, a professional mother, who can avoid stifling emotional obligations."(Volker 126) She, as a child, ignores most of what's...
Cited: Voelker, Joeseph C. Art and the Accidental in Anne Tyler. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1989, 125-146.
Tyler, Anne. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant. New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1982.
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