Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday Salon - Famlies

Today my family attended the annual family reunion of my maternal grandfather's side of the family. When my mom was growing up the family all lived nearby and she was very close to the family. But for years after she and my father married they didn't attend the reunion. Some years back, it became important to her to attend again. Therefore, it became important to us, although rather than going to see family, we were walking into a room full of strangers. What I have discovered in the years since is that blood does not necessarily make a group of people a family. It takes some effort on everyone's part to become a family including making yourself walk into that room year after year until those people become familiar faces, until you know the names of their children and grandchildren, until you celebrate their joys and sorrows together. It also helps tremendously to have family members like my mother, who is the glue that holds not just her immediate family together but her very extended family as well, for which we are all grateful.

All of which got me to thinking about families in literature. It seems like so many of the families we read about today in literature are dysfunctional. Is this because most families are dysfunctional? Or are they just more interesting to write and read about? I've been reading a lot of books about families this year, including Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons and Home by Marilynne Robinson, but I think I'm still sticking with the Bennets of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and the Marchs of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott as my all time favorite families in literature. Which family is your favorite family in literature?


  1. That's a good point you made about how maybe families are just dysfunctional. I mean, you were right--being a family is more than just sharing blood. Taking my family for example, we are five very different people, so it's foolhardy to think we're all going to get along all the time.

    Thanks for the interesting thoughts! :)

  2. I really like the O'Haras at the beginning of Gone With the Wind. The mother was such a source of comfort and they all gathered in her office on the worn out furniture to be in her presence while she worked on the affairs of the plantation.

    I also like the Finch family in To Kill a Mockingbird. Sometimes you have to try really hard to understand your parents.

    How are you liking The Adventures of Tom Sawyer?

  3. I've read Tom Sawyer a couple of times before but Twain is someone I always enjoy. You get such a great picture of what life was like at that time.

  4. I took a class over Twain last fall, so I kind of got my fill of him. I need to go back and actually read his biography because he lived an interesting life. I think Huck Finn is my favorite of his novels. But I haven't read Life on the Mississippi or The Gilded Age, which both look really good to me.