Angela's Ashes

Angela's Ashes Term Paper
Both books that I've read, Angela's Ashes and The Color of Water both demonstrated behavior than can be considered dysfunctional. A dysfunctional family is one that fails to meet some or all the basic needs of its members. Sometimes these needs, such as food, shelter or clothing are so basic that people take them for granted. More often, emotional needs, such as the need for love, support and security go unmet.
Although a family can be dysfunctional in several ways there are some characteristics that occur more often than others. Drugs, alcoholism, death, abandonment, starvation and anxiety are some examples of dysfunctional characteristics that can be found in both Angela's Ashes and The Color of Water. Just because a family is dysfunctional does not mean it's members do not love each other. Dysfunction usually results from a large amount of problems in the lives of the parents. Parents usually do the best that they can with their children but the truth is that they're human too and can't always manage the difficult task of parenting if they are overwhelmed by their own troubles. It could be that their parenting skills have been impaired by mental or physical illness or simply by ignorance. Also, many parents of dysfunctional families grew up in unhealthy or abusive families themselves and don't know how to break the mold. It may be hard for a person in a dysfunctional family to believe or understand it, but the truth is that poor parenting is rarely intentional.
The result of dysfunction vary from the type of dysfunction the family endures. I've heard of people becoming abusive, alcoholics, drug abusers, or runaways. Some people are too weak to cope with the situations in their home, so they flee and start new lives which usually end up becoming dysfunctional again. Dysfunction rubs off on children. Because children are so vulnerable they look at their parents as role models. Children usually end up having no sense of their own reality; therefor no sense of self. The cannot deal properly with their own feelings because they have been taught to deny those feelings. they can't value their needs realistically because their needs have always come second to the needs of the family, which were to stop anything from changing in order to ward off abandonment.
In The Color of Water the stepfather dies creating an unhealthy and new environment for the family. As the mother is now forced to raise her twelve children alone, she is forced to take on even more responsibility. Rachel Shilsky never before had a job. She was struggling to make ends meet. Playing games with her children to determine who was going to eat dinner and breakfast that day. The winners would eat and the losers would suffer because the family was living in poverty, not to say that poverty is a dysfunction, but the dysfunction develops as a reaction to the consequences that the family has to face. Many wealthy people can become dysfunctional. Rachel places five children in two beds. Most of the time the kids were so uncomfortable that they chose to rather sleep on the cold cement floor of their Red Hook, Brooklyn housing project. The kids never realized that they were living a different life than other kids until they are sent to school and James, the youngest of twelve children asks his mother why she doesn't look like the other children's mom's. Not only are they living in different atmospheres enduring situations that most kids didn't have to endure, but their mother was white, the kids were mixed and the people in their neighborhood were all black. Their family were outcasts. James and his siblings learned to deal with the color of their skin, the death of loved ones, the poverty and the fact that they didn't know where they came from. The children often thought about where their mother was from. ? We traded information on Mommy the way people traded baseball cards at trade shows, offering bits and pieces of information fraught with gossip, nonsense, wisdom and sometimes just plain foolishness?. ?What does it matter to you anyway?? my older brother Richie scoffed when I asked him if we had any grandparents, ?You're adopted anyway.? This