Letter Of A Woman Homesteader, Daughter Of Earth, Mrs. Spring Fragrance Essay, Research Paper
A person’s family can be one of the most influential forces in their life. It shapes a person’s character, values, and personality and influences their life in a positive or negative manner. What makes up a family can vary from person to person. Family could be a mother, father, and children, or it could be the people one cares about whether they are related or not. Sometimes people form families out of necessity to help and care for each other while they are away from their biological family. The characters in the books Letters of a Woman Homesteader, Daughter of Earth, and “Mrs. Spring Fragrance” from Mrs. Spring Fragrance and Other Writings all have different views of family as well as different types of family. Elinore Stewart, Marie Rogers, and Mrs. Spring Fragrance’s are each affected by their family, which helps to shape their lives, and influenced they path they took. This paper will look at what makes up their individual families, their view of their families, and how the family affected their lives.
Elinore Stewart is a pioneer. Widowed at a young age, she moves to Denver to become a wash lady to support herself and her young daughter. Elinore then decides to make the trip out west to Wyoming to try to make a better life for herself and her daughter. The life of a homesteader was not an easy one to be sure. The life as a woman on your own, homesteading alone, was even harder. Elinore was an independent and an intelligent woman. Her intelligence told her that in order to survive she would need the help of others. That survival instinct was the beginning of Elinore’s family unit. She began to bond with her neighbors, and everyone would help and look out for each other. Elinore’s family grew as she became acquainted with her neighbors. Her family came to include such people as Mrs. Louderer, Mrs. O’Shaughnessy, Mr. and Mrs. Edmonson, Cora Belle, Mr. Stewart, whom she would later marry, and more. To Elinore’s family was not about blood relation, but about whom you cared for and who cared for you.
Marie Roger’s family is a typical family grouping. Her family includes her mother, father, sisters and brothers, as well as her aunts. Marie was born into her family and did not get to choose her grouping as Elinore did. It is not until Marie ages that her family expands to include others. Eventually Marie will add Knut Larsen as her husband and his sister Karen into her family. Anand Manvekar, her second husband, and Ranjit Singh, who would become a father figure for Marie, would also enter into Marie’s family, although none would become permanent members. Marie is tormented by what becomes a very dysfunctional family life, and ends up rejecting any kind of love. In the end Marie herself becomes her own family.
Mrs. Spring Fragrance is a woman who came to America with only her husband, leaving behind any family she may have had in China. In the beginning her husband is her only family. Their marriage was arranged by their parents in China. Luckily for them, they fell in love even before they met. The couple does not have any children although they both want them. This longing for children is what causes Mrs. Spring Fragrance to become attached to Laura and Kai Tzu. Mrs. Spring Fragrance cares for these two young lovers and tries to help them. Mrs. Spring Fragrance considers Laura a member of her family and cares for the girl as if she were her own daughter. Unlike Marie’s family, the Spring Fragrance’s are a relatively stable family unit within themselves and only open their family unit to others due to their lack of children.
How these three characters view their families differs as much as the people that they consider family. Elinore views her family as a support system. She relies on her neighbors to help her survive. While she is not dependent on them, she does need them for help occasionally. Elinore also needs her neighbors for companionship. On many occasions she and her neighbors visit one another and have dinners. Without this interaction her life would be lonely and she probably would not be happy homesteading. When Elinore marries Mr. Stewart, her family dynamics change to include him in her life. Elinore’s stories are all of the people around her proving that her neighbors are an integral part of her daily life. Elinore’s family is a large one with everyone leaning on each other for support.
Marie Roger’s view of her family is opposite of Elinore’s. While Elinore sees her family as a support system, Marie sees hers as something that holds her down. Elinore is surrounded by love, and Marie hates the very idea of love. “Love…I did not know what love was.” Marie sees her family members as people she is obligated to care for, but resents her obligation. She longs to be free and to live her life as she wishes. While she does venture out on her own and gets an education, she is constantly overcome with guilt for not being able to care for all her siblings. She is angry with her parents for giving birth to her, and is resentful that they did not have the money to care for all their children. While neither of her parents forced her to care for her siblings, she still feels obligated to do so since her Aunt cared for her. Marie views her family as something she didn’t ask to be a part of, and she resents the feelings of obligation that she has to them.
Mrs. Spring Fragrance sees her life with her husband as happy. She loves him and is content with him. While Marie could never learn how to love anyone, Mrs. Spring Fragrance has love to spare. She showers her love on her neighbor’s daughter, since she herself never had children. Mr. and Mrs. Spring Fragrance are in love and happy with their family. Even during their misunderstanding, Mr. Spring Fragrance never stops loving his wife, even if he doubts her love for him. This shows just how connected they are to withstand doubting each other.
Family affects each of the three characters lives differently. For Elinore Stewart, family only adds to the happiness in her life. Her life in enriched by those around her. Without these neighbors she would certainly have had a harder time in Wyoming. Elinore is social person; had she not embraced those around her as her own family, her life would have been considerably less interesting. Her marriage to Mr. Stewart also affects her life positively. He provides security and companionship to her, and completes her immediate family. Elinore’s life was a happy one, and that was because of those around her, not in spite of them.
Marie Rogers differs again from Elinore Stewart in her relationship with her family. Marie’s family affected her life in a way that made her want to go out on her own and become independent of them. Growing up, Marie’s family was poor and uneducated. They moved around frequently to try to accommodate her father’s ever changing jobs. Her father often left her mother behind in pursuit of different lines of work. All of this had a profound effect on Marie. When she was old enough, she started teaching, determined to contribute to the family so that she could gain independence. She later moved away in pursuit of an education. Marie was constantly trying to distance herself from her family, and to make her life different. Her need for independence cost her two failed marriages. Marie wanted companionship, but did not understand that a marriage probably could not work without sex. Marie spent her whole life running from others, all in her need for independence. She had a great need to support herself and to help her siblings. Marie distanced herself from her family and anyone else who tried to care for her. She could not understand that loving another person did not make you weak.
Mrs. Spring Fragrance’s family greatly affected the course of her life. Had her parents not arranged her marriage to Mr. Spring Fragrance, she would probably still live in China. Had she not fallen in love with her husband, she might have been trapped in a life of contentment, but without love. Mrs. Spring Fragrance was surrounded by love just as Elinore Stewart was. She had the love of her husband and of those around her. She was obviously a happy woman and she tried to share her happiness with others by trying to help Laura and Kai Tzu marry each other. Her happy relationship with her husband is what enabled her to reach out to Laura. Mrs. Spring Fragrance was able to give love not only to her husband but to draw others in to include them in her family; something that Marie Rogers was never able to do. Mrs. Spring Fragrance knew what love was, and could both give and receive it. Marie was so blinded by her need for independence that she could barely love herself, much less her own family or anyone else.
Family is what draws people together, and enriches their lives. Each character’s family was made up of a different grouping of people. For Elinore Stewart it was her children and all of her neighbors bonding together to survive in an unsettled part of the country. For Marie Rogers it was her immediate family, with a few ex-husbands and a mentor thrown in. Mrs. Spring Fragrances’ family consisted of her husband, a few relatives, and Laura. The character’s view of their family, and how their family affected their lives, were also different. Elinore viewed her family as a support system. Elinore’s family affected her life in a positive way; they looked out for each other and provided companionship in a place where, without each other, you may not survive. Marie viewed her family as a burden, and as something she didn’t want to be a part of. Marie’s life was affected negatively by her views of her family. She strove for independence her whole life and ended up creating walls around herself. She viewed love as something for weak people and therefore pushed herself away from anyone who tried to love her. Mrs. Spring Fragrance loved her family. She loved her husband dearly and wanted others to feel the happiness she did. Her life was affected very positively by her family; she was in love with her husband and did not view their marriage as arranged but as two people who fell in love. No matter how the character’s family is constructed, it is their view of the family that sets how it will affect their lives. Elinore Stewart and Mrs. Spring Fragrance had positive views of their families, and their lives were affected positively. Marie Rogers viewed her family in a negative light, and spent her whole life trying to escape her negative feelings about love and family.