Rebecca Chen Women in Literature 06 Mrs. TallonJanuary 12th 2018 Broken Hearts Never Restore”I know a lot about women and their suffering, but I still know almost nothing about men” (See 253). These are words of Lily in the Lisa See’s novel, Snow Flower, and the Secret Fan.
This women-devising society associates itself with many issues of women and girls being exploited, abused and misused, by their own families. Parents, in some instances, have proven to be irresponsible when handling their daughters, something this leads to a fraught relationship between them. Parents’ relationship with their daughters has been explicated and explored as well in the novels The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan Lisa See. In the Bluest Eye, girls like Pecola are abused even sexually by her father, an ordeal that permanently ruins the life of this girl. The irresponsibility of both parents is clearly shown in this novel, where some traits like ugliness are assumed to be hereditary and such feelings even passed to the siblings, deterring them from having a positive view of life. In Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Lily narrates her childhood days when she looked for passion and love, but this society encouraged women and girls to be useless and persons of no significant importance in the community. But only food-binding and matchmaking which make them valuable. The two novels, therefore, give a perfect explication of how parents relate to their daughters, and in most cases, this relationship is depicted as fraught, forcing the daughters to form other strong bonds with either their siblings or friends and, over time, lose love for their parents.
To start with, in Toni Morrison’s novel, The Bluest Eye, the influence of parents on their daughters is depicted to be of vast effects and powerful. Pecola’s life is fully the effect of the parents. Being black who lived in Ohio and considered themselves ugly people, this family faces many challenges including a rejection by the society as well. They were also poor, as discussed by the author. He writes that: “Although poverty was traditional and stultifying, it was not unique. But ugliness was unique” (Morrison 38). Poverty is some unfortunate event, unlike ugliness, which was instituted and formed in the mind of the other characters.
The Breedlove family is poor and ugly. These are the beginnings and causes of Pecola’s life struggles – and her plans to begin praying for the bluest eye. When she accidentally spills a pan of blueberry jam, she is abused by her own mother, Pauline. She never enjoys any moment of peace, even with her own mother. The activity by her father in raping her is the most painful moment that displays the theme of a fraught parent-daughter relationship.
Cholly, letting go because of his drunkenness, commits incest with his daughter, an act which can be considered to be a rape. This was another situation that changed Pecola’s life, adding much worry and hatred to her life as well. Additionally, the action by her father of burning the family’s house forces all the family members outdoors, and Pecola begins another lifestyle apart from her home. Something painful about this act is that, after it happens, her mother never worries about her children but went to stay with her employer, leaving the children to wander. Therefore, Pecola’s relationship with her family it cut off at this point. After that, she begins another life with the family of Claudia and Frieda, the girls who loved her so much. It proves that at a particular point when parents mistreat their daughters, like in the case of Pecola, there can be a shift in whom they love, and to Pecola, she felt at home upon being received warmly by the MacTeer’s family.
Claudia narrates this incidence as: “Mum had told us two days earlier, that care was coming – a girl who had no place to go …. We were to be nice to her and not fight” (Morrison 16). Daughters form new relationships with either their friends or siblings based on the love and care they receive. For instance, Pecola never formed any good relationship with her brother, Sammy, but became a sister to Claudia and Frieda because of how they loved her. Claudia affirms of their good experience with Pecola, and their good relationship: “We had fun in those days Pecola was with us” (Morrison 18). And when they realized that Pecola is not towards dominating them, they loved her, even more (Morrison 19). The three became one, and they could work as one, as opposed to the relationship that Pecola had with her brother and with her parents.
In the novel, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Lily becomes a victim of parents’ relationship with her. Though at the time this novel is written, Lily is eighty-years-old, she narrates her girlhood days and the experience she had. In her narration, it is clear that she lacked love, and never got this love until the end. Lily says that “For my entire life I longed for love.
I knew it was not right for me – as a girl and later as a woman – to want or expect it, but I did, and this unjustified desire has been at the root of every problem I have experienced in my life” (See 5). Hence, the basic foundation of the lack of this love is from the parent’s, as it is described in the following analysis. Lily’s life begins to change at an early age, a when that she is supposed to enjoy the love and care of her parents fully.
At the age of six, her parents have begun to seek cultural affirmation, including foot-binding, and to make it worse, matchmaking. According to their culture, matchmakers could begin arranging for marriages of the girls when they are old enough. Therefore, the appearance of a matchmaker at Lily’s tender age has to bring some tension to herself and also to the family.
Though only age of six, Lily cannot comprehend or understand what is going on between her mother and the divine people. She does know that Mama is willing to spend every penny for Madame Wang’s suggestions, connecting a match for her. Therefore, this shows how these parents see their daughters and their bodies as currencies, and then when the daughters have something unique about them. Lily’s parents are willing to do anything for the sake of insuring their daughter’s life, not based on her wish or directives, but as directed by the divine people and according to their culture. Though this might have been a traditional way of doing, Lily’s suggestions and the consideration of age could have been taken into account. Also, the “tend ai” of her mother, which is the food binding process as well as the accusations of her mother about the death of Beautiful moon, can be a depiction of a fraught family relationship between her mother and Lily.
Hence, both Lily’s parents and Pecola’s parents rarely have feelings for their daughters.Luckily, Lily forms a “lao tong” relationship with Snow Flower, a best friend who gives her friendship and love. This friendship becoming long-lasting and mutual, benefits the two so much. This is an illustration of Lily finding love somewhere else because she could not get it from her own parents. Also, Lily grows a strong emotional bond with her husband.
For instance, at the time she was desperate and waiting for him to come, but trapped in the mountains. These are the moments when she seems to be receiving love from her husband, something she missed from the parents. In the same family, Lily seeks attention from her mother-in-law, Lady Lu. In a real sense, she is just trying to make up for the indifference as well as the mistreatment that she receives from her mother. She, therefore, thinks that, through the presence and attention of her mother-in-law, she might be able to feel loved and cared for in this family.
In conclusion, fraught relationships between parents and their daughters is a reality, vital experience in these two novels. While Pecola struggles to be loved and cared by her parents, Lily also looks for love from both her family and society as a whole. Though there are instances in these novels where some families in the stories have a good relationships with their daughters, in many instances, it becomes painful to learn that many daughters are abused, misused and even abandoned by their parents. Pecola is an example of the statement.
Hence these girls tend to refocus their love and form good relationships with their friends and peers, in the case of Pecola and the MacTeer’s daughters, as well as Lily and Snow Flower.