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Forgiveness in Families

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rebecca vattathchirayil

on 2 June 2015

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Transcript of Forgiveness in Families

Forgiveness in Families by : Alice Munro

“Disappointment. That was the word that stayed with me. I was so glad, really, grateful but underneath I was thinking, so Cam did not kill her after all, with his carelessness and craziness and going out and neglecting her he did not kill her, and I was, yes, I was sorry in some part of me to find out that that was true.”

This passage is important because it reveals a turning point for the protagonist Valerie, is shows the moment in which she comes to the revelation that throughout her entire life she has judged and patronized her mother and brother because they did not act the way an ideal mother should act or an ideal brother should act. Valerie had always convinced herself she was superior to both of them however, through this passage Valerie sees that she is no better than Cam. One of the major themes which is forgiveness can also be taken from this passage because when Valerie finds she was being unfair to Cam and her mother she takes it upon herself to forgive them and herself in order to move on and try and become a different person.


KEY PASSAGE
“Forgiveness in Families” is written in the 1st person point of view. The author uses this point of view to provide Valerie’s perspective and feelings towards Cameron and her mother. Through the 1st person point of view Val is able to influence how readers portray Cameron’s character as well as her mothers and the events that occur throughout the story, because readers only know what happens through her eyes. If the story were in the 3rd person then we would not have known of the internal conflict between Val and herself, and the theme and conclusion would have been ruined because we would have not known when Val came to the revelation she had to forgive her mother, Cam and herself.
Yes, there is bias in the story. Cameron's personality is described from Valerie's point of view, which limits our own opinions about Cameron, we just see him through Valerie's eyes.
Cheyenne, Rosa, Rebecca, Luis and Liban
Block: 2
Febuary 13, 2013

PLOT
CHARACTER ANALYSIS
VALERIE
CAMERON


Cameron, nicknamed Cam throughout the story is described to have an “eccentric” behaviour by his sister Val. Cam seems to be very reliant; since childhood he had asthma and stayed home the majority of time opposed to going to school because of the asthma, Valerie states “nobody else is quite so special, quite so centre-of-the-universe, as my brother”. As a young adult Cameron relied heavily on his mother financially and to find him jobs such as a movie theater usher and then as a worker in an office at the Greyhound Bus Depot however, no job kept long with Cam and he constantly moved from one job to another showing he had very little dedication. As an adult Cam continued to live at home and rely on his mother for financial support. During Cam’s mid-thirties he takes on the look of a somewhat hippie or priest and can be described to have straggly, grey- shoulder length hair that is thinning out in the front. He wears a rough brown robe, rope sandals and various medallions, crosses and elks teeth. Cam has no real motivations in the beginning of the story he just floated through life with no real goal in mind but by the end of the story Val states “he might take advantage of the adult education courses, he is thinking about becoming an accountant”, which shows Cam is also a dynamic character in the story who goes through a minor change. His other motivation in the story was to help heal his mother by performing a ceremony with members of an ancient holy discipline. Cameron is a round character because a lot of things are described about him throughout all stages of his life.


READING QUIZ
RATING
CLIMAX
POINT OF VEIW
DISCUSSION
QUESTIONS

1) Why do you think the protagonist has despised her brother since he was born?

I think the protagonist, Valerie despises her brother Cameron because he has always taken the attention away from her, even though through her eyes he does not deserve the attention. The week Cameron was born was the week she started school which meant her mother was not there with her even though all the other kids had their mothers with them. Secondly, Valerie dislikes how he has always had support from their mother in things such as finding jobs and receiving financial aid, which shows she might have had less opportunities than Cam. Lastly, I think Valerie despises Cam because of his behaviour and how immature he acts, she puts herself above him and sees him as an unideal and burdensome brother to have.


2) Do you think it is appropriate for Valarie to blame her mother for Cam’s behaviour?


Yes, I do think that it is appropriate for Valerie to blame her mother for Cam’s behaviour because Valerie’s mother has always treated Cam as if he were special, making exceptions only for him partly because she pities him, she even states “he had a lot to contend with, his asthma and no dad. He never did intentionally hurt a soul.” Second, Valerie’s mother has always kept Cameron very close to her, even though he went about Canada doing various jobs he was always dependant on his mother’s financial support and a place to live even though he was an adult, and his mother encouraged him to depend on her by constantly justifying everything he does even if it is wrong or crazy. This made an aspect of Cameron’s behaviour extremely reliant and self-centered. Lastly, I believe that Valerie’s mothers constant forgiveness and tolerance towards the way Cameron does things changes his behaviour, for example when their mother is hospitalized and Cam performs the ceremony with his co-priests and she lives she states “maybe Cam should go into the miracle business, he certainly pulled it off with me”, this shows that she believed Cam saved her life even though he could have been the on to kill her for putting her on a vegetarian diet and then neglecting her when she got sick from it. All in all I believe Valerie has the right to blame her mother for Cams behaviour because I think that a parents have a lot to do with the behaviours of their children through how they are raised.


VOCABULARY
1)curvature -
the fact of being curved or the degree to which something is curved.
3)vanity -
4)crude -
5)cavorted -
6)demonic -
7)dervishes -
8)incense -
10)atheist -
undisguised; blunt
excessive pride in one's appearance, qualities, abilities, achievements, etc
to behave in a high-spirited, festive manner
resembling, or characteristic of demons or evil spirits
a gum, spice, or other substance that is burned for the sweet smell it produces.
non-believer in God
one that possess abundant, often frenzied energy.
2)eccentric -
9)tycoon -
(of a person or their behavior) unconventional and slightly strange.
a wealthy, powerful person in business or industry.
The short story “Forgiveness in Families” is set in Vancouver, BC. The story is about the narrator, Valerie’s feelings and forgiveness towards her lenient mother, her “eccentric” brother Cameron and by the end of the story herself. As the story begins, Valerie describes Cam as someone who has never made any commitments or advancements towards becoming independent, he has always relied on their mother to support him. Valerie elaborates that Cameron was aided by their mother to get various jobs and asked for money throughout his life. Therefore, Val has always seen her brother as a burden and her mother as someone who encourages him, Val’s mother even states “After all the Lord loves a lunatic”, and this shows that Val’s mother justifies his behaviour. The story progresses and Val and Cams mother falls ill and is hospitalized, Val believes it is due to the vegetarian diet Cam put her on. Val is almost certain her mother will die however, Cam believes he can save their mother through preforming a ceremony in the waiting room of the hospital with an ancient holy discipline. Shortly thereafter, Valerie receives a phone call from the doctor saying her mother was in much better condition and would recover. At that moment Valerie realizes that a part of her was disappointed with her mother’s recovery, because if she had died the blame would have been on Cam for not taking proper care of her. Valerie then comes to the realization that she is no better than Cam for thinking the way she did, she is most likely even worse so she plans to change and in doing so she forgives Cam, her mother and herself. By the end the story Val is trying to get along with her family and accept the way her brother truly is.
Valerie is the narrator of the story.
She tells the story from the first person point of view. We can clearly deduce from the beginning that Val is a very bitter person towards her younger brother Cam throughout most of his life. Val saw Cams existence as an annoyance where for instance she would state “he was born the week I started school” which meant she did not have her mother with her on the first day because of Cam. Val can also be described as responsible and independent because she was able to start and support a new life with her own family in contrast to Cam who has relied on their mother’s support for most of his life. Val also got their mother safely to the hospital when she fell ill, after Cam called her for help, even though the task was simple. Lastly, Val is disapproving and judgemental throughout the story to both her mother and Cam. Towards Cam because she has never accepted him for him and has always judged his personality and beliefs. Valerie is judgmental and disapproving towards her mother because she disapproves of the way she raised Cam by constantly supporting everything he does and coddling him. Val’s motivations are to blame and judge her brother on everything he does Val ultimately gives off a feel of superiority over Cam and her mother. When Val and Cam’s mother is hospitalized, Val, in a way subconsciously wants her mother to die just to prove to Cam that his rituals did not work and that he was at fault because it was him who got her sick on a vegetarian diet. Val’s round character because a lot is said about her through her actions and feelings. Val is a dynamic character because throughout most of the story she disapproves of everything Cam does, she believes Cam is just a nuisance. However, when Cam and Val’s mother falls ill and Val discovers that her mother will be fine she is disappointed for the sole reason she cannot have a valid excuse to detest her brother, because he was the unintentional cause of their mother to get sick. All in all, Val has always been at war with herself and finally comes to the realization that she has been unfair and must forgive her mother for treating Cam like he is special and does no wrong. Val must also forgive Cam for causing so much trouble and stress throughout her and their mother’s lives, and she must forgive herself for feeling resentment towards her mother and brother her whole life.


The climax of the story is when Val and Cam’s mother falls ill and is taken to the intensive care unit in the hospital. Cam comes to the hospital with his co- priests and start performing a ceremony to help their mother. Valerie goes home and awaits news on her mother’s condition, when she is told her mother would be fine, Val is almost disappointed. This is the most significant turning point in the story because Val and Cam’s mother’s hospitalization forced Val to reflect on the kind of person she is and has been for her entire life. She also reflects on what she wants to change about herself and initially become, part of achieving this leads her to forgive Cam, her mother and herself.



I rate this story a three out of five because there was no description of the protagonist, Val’s, physical features and little detail describing Val’s personality in the story. I had to decipher what her character traits were through her actions and how she felt and described others which was sometimes confusing. The story also lacked a suspense factor as I found myself slightly bored while reading the story even at the climax. Lastly, I disliked how the author put so much emphasis on events that took place throughout Cams life but not Val’s or their mothers.



3) Compare and contrast Valerie and Cameron.

Valerie and Cameron’s lifestyles are different because Valerie is able to support a new life with her own family opposed to Cameron who relies on their mother for a place to stay and financial support, Val and Cam lifestyles are the same because they both have strong ties with family and have their mother in their lives. Val and Cam are different in the aspect of behavior and character traits because Cam is more immature and can be described as a “lunatic” or “eccentric”, acting very much on impulse regardless of what others think. In contrast Val is more responsible and conservative having her own family to look after she must be mature and act a certain way. In behaviours Val and Cam are similar because they are both self-centered cam being so because he got his mother on a vegetarian diet and as she got sick from it he ignored it and took it as a sign her body was cleansing its self. Valerie is self-centered because she was disappointed when she heard of her mother’s recovery because that would mean Cam would not be at fault or to blame. In the aspect of motivations Cam and Val are different in the beginning of the story Val wanted to become an everyday kind of person with a husband and kids and she strived towards the future but Cam on the other hand had no goals and just went through life thinking about the present. However, towards the end of the story Val and Cams motivations are the same, they both wish to make changes to who they are and what they want to become.



Valerie is the narrator of the story. She tells the story from the first person point of view. We can clearly deduce from the beginning that Val is a very bitter person towards her younger brother Cam throughout most of his life. Val saw Cams existence as an annoyance where for instance she would state “he was born the week I started school” which meant she did not have her mother with her on the first day because of Cam. Val can also be described as responsible and independent because she was able to start and support a new life with her own family in contrast to Cam who has relied on their mother’s support for most of his life. Val also got their mother safely to the hospital when she fell ill, after Cam called her for help, even though the task was simple. Lastly, Val is disapproving and judgemental throughout the story to both her mother and Cam. Towards Cam because she has never accepted him for him and has always judged his personality and beliefs. Valerie is judgmental and disapproving towards her mother because she disapproves of the way she raised Cam by constantly supporting everything he does and coddling him. Val’s motivations are to blame and judge her brother on everything he does Val ultimately gives off a feel of superiority over Cam and her mother. When Val and Cam’s mother is hospitalized, Val, in a way subconsciously wants her mother to die just to prove to Cam that his rituals did not work and that he was at fault because it was him who got her sick on a vegetarian diet. Val’s round character because a lot is said about her through her actions and feelings. Val is a dynamic character because throughout most of the story she disapproves of everything Cam does, she believes Cam is just a nuisance. However, when Cam and Val’s mother falls ill and Val discovers that her mother will be fine she is disappointed for the sole reason she cannot have a valid excuse to detest her brother, because he was the unintentional cause of their mother to get sick. All in all, Val has always been at war with herself and finally comes to the realization that she has been unfair and must forgive her mother for treating Cam like he is special and does no wrong. Val must also forgive Cam for causing so much trouble and stress throughout her and their mother’s lives, and she must forgive herself for feeling resentment towards her mother and brother her whole life.



VALERIE
CAMERON
The story is written from the first person point of view
The protagonist of the story is Valerie
Valerie faces internal conflict
3) Which type of conflict does Valerie face?
4) Is the protagonist a static or dynamic character?
The protagonist, Valerie is a dynamic character
Cameron is a round character
5) is Cameron a round or flat character?
7) What is the setting of the story?
The turning point is when Val and Ca's mother is hospitalized
8) Are there any stock characters in the story?
She setting of the story is in Vancouver, BC some time in the past.
Cameron is described as a stereotypical "hippie" in the story.
9) Is there bias in the story?
The rising action is when Cam puts his mother on a vegetarian diet, which in Valerie's opinion is the cause of their mother to fall ill and have to go to the hospital.
1) From what point of view is story written
2) Who is the protagonist of the story?
10) What is the rising action in the story?
6) what is the climax or turning point of the story?
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