A family is always a glue that holds people with blood relations together providing them constant support, love, values and principles that help them to grow (Denton, 2012). While a family is one of the foundations of a sense of identity and purpose, issues such as fights and encroachment of new people, cultures and language through colonization disturb its structure. Many literary works where disruption in families as a major theme illustrate how events such as parental death, colonization, apartheid and separation due to geographical location affect the structure of families. The essay will explore the distinct nature of family disruption depicted by characters in Fugard's (1972) play "Sizwe Bansi is Dead", Devi's (1990) article "The Hunt" and Schwarz-Bart, Bray, & Kincaid's (2013) literary work "The Bridge of Beyond".
Fugard's article "Sizwe is Dead" is an anti-apartheid literary work in which disruption between families is one of the key themes. According to Fugard (1972), apartheid that befalls South Africa in 1994 just before was the leading cause of disruption of families. During the apartheid period, black people were alienated from the whites and forced to reside in Bantustans located in rural and remote areas. Denial of relationships and associations with the whites and the survival of menial labor are the main characteristics of apartheid which disrupted black families. Sizwe Bansi's family was disrupted he went to Port Elizabeth in search of employment to support his family consisting of one wife and four children. Geographical separation caused dislocation of Bansi's family leading to psychological trauma. Bansi went as far as taking the identity of a dead man to survive and obtain a decent job in the city. Styles as the photographer in the play recognized the earlier disruption of families through apartheid that claimed the lives of many people but he used photography to allow individuals to know how ancestors resembled thus linking families through generation. The unique aspect in this literary work is that apartheid appears to be the main cause of family disruption among black families as men were removed from their families and forced to work in towns (Olaiya, 2008). Additionally, the migrant system of labor disrupted black nuclear families.
Language and colonization in Devi's (1990) article "the Hunt" are the disrupting forces among families. In the whole work, there is a linguistic exploration of suffering spectators such that the narrator describes the physical location using the words of the colonizers leading to a disruption in the manner in which the villagers and the narrator explain their environment. In Bengali, many villagers are not able to apply the native language in the description of daily activities and the physical environment because colonizers brought customs and foreign objects understood by the native colonizers only. In "the Hunt", language was the only aspect of expressing intimate identities but it caused disruption of the non-colonizers by bringing misunderstandings (Andersen, 2015). There is an attack on otherness since the original Bengali text by Devi through the use of italics exhibits disruptive alienation of others. The linguistic structure is the force of disruption as the combination of English and Bengali words created a language barrier licking out tribal people from socioeconomic participation. Linguistic neocolonialism in the Hunt fused with lifestyle, language and culture of the people of Bengal tribes. Disruption occurring due to linguistic difference is such that the colonizers used English as a tool for striping the power of tribal people despite being in their villagers. The similarity between family disruption in the Hunt and Sizwe Bansi is Dead is such that outsiders in the form of colonizers are the source of disruption. Mary Oraon towards the end mastered the Bengali and English language which she used in removing the sovereignty of the neo-colonizers.
In Schwarz-Bart, Bray, and Kincaid's (2013) article "The Bridge of Beyond", death is the source of family disruption as evident from the time when Jeremiah, Toussine's husband, died, Toussine moved out of their home and settled in Fond-Zombi where friends and relatives were had to cross the bridge to meet her. According to McLanahan & Bumpas (2009), family disruption due to death has adverse intergenerational impacts. It is evident in another instance where Telumee's family was disrupted when Victory, her mother, was married to a Dominican man leading to Telumee going to live with Toussine. The article shows that family disruption causes suffering as both Telumee and Toussine traverse from happiness when they were still together with their families to intense loneliness and suffering as evident from the case of Telumee who worked in plantations owned by wealthy white people. It is evident from Schwarz-Bart, Bray, and Kincaid's (2013) literary works that family is a source of strength since the characters in presence of their family members appear fiery, unbroken and strong until they are geographically separated or disrupted by the occurrence of death. The thematic significance of the concept of family is that disruption causes suffering and tragedy but finding solace in others restores happiness and hope. Schwarz-Bart, Bray, and Kincaid (2013) illustrate the beauty lying in the family since the values, customs and traditions underpinning the existence of members is a source of solace and warmth. The sources of support for Telumee were her grandparents Xango and Minerva while in the case of Toussine, her mother Victory, her husband Jerimiah and the Queen Without A Name, her grandmother were the main the backbone of her happiness. However, disruption through death, marriage, death and separation denied them happiness and connection with family members.
In summary, the three literary works define the distinctive nature of disruption between families. First, the invasion of outsiders as in the case of colonizers in South Africa led to the separation of people from their families due to death and slavery in which individuals were forcefully removed from their homes to work in colonizer's plantations and homes. Secondly, linguistic differences is a distinct cause of family disruption such that the encroachment of outsiders into a tribal village causes eradication of culture and changes in the sense of identity and belonging. The new Bengal wave in Devi's (1990) article disrupted the locals and reduced them to 'suffering spectators' since the new lifestyles, and the Bengali language affected their communication and relationship between one another and colonizers. It is evident in the "The Hunt" that the colonizer's linguistic representation of lifestyles and culture changes the lives of Kuruda people forcing them to adopt the British neocolonial culture. Thirdly, migration, marriage death of family member and marriage explain a different perspective of family disruption as they perpetuate the separation of individuals with their friends and families. The common aspects of the three literary works are that disruption between families has negative socioeconomic impacts among the victims because families are sources of protection, culture, values, love and support.
Andersen, K. (2015). Mahasweta Devi's Mary Oraon: Balancing Language and Identity. Berkeley: University of California.
Denton, M. (2012). Family Structure, Family Disruption, and Profiles of Adolescent Religiosity. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 51(1), 42064.https://www.jstor.org/stable/41349927.
Devi, M. (1990). The Hunt. Journal of Feminist Theory, 5(1), 61-79, DOI: 10.1080/07407709008571141.
Fugard, A. (1972). Sizwe Bansi is Dead.
McLanahan, S., & Bumpas, L. (2009). Intergenerational Consequences of Family Disruption. American Journal of Sociology, 97(4), 130-153.
Olaiya, K. (2008). Deconstructing Apartheid's Global Gaze: Death and Resistance in Fugard et al.'s Sizwe Bansi Is Dead. The Global South, 2(2), 75-91.https://www.jstor.org/stable/40339260.
Schwarz-Bart, S., Bray, B., & Kincaid, J. (2013). The Bridge of Beyond. New York: NYRB Classics.
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