A Bird in the House 8. Vanessa sees the Remembrance Day Ceremony as a ridiculous exercise, emptied of meaning and value, but her father’s remembrance of his brother’s death connects her to this man, whom she will never know but carries In her memory and blood none-the-less. She remembers her Grandmother Connor and wonders about her soul needing to be ransomed. Explore Vanessa’s growing awareness of the relationship between the living and the dead. 9. “[Grandmother MacLeod’s] men were all gone, her husband and her sons, and a family whose men are all gone Is no family at 03).
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Whose perspective Is this? 10. Is Vanessa a Conner or a Macleod? Either or both? Why does this matter? In what ways does It matter? To what extent do we Inherit who we are? What are our inheritances? Can we escape them? If so, how? And if not, why not? 11. The story ends with a memory of Vanessa as a young woman who finds a love letter and a picture that belonged to her father. What is the symbolic significance of her burning them? 10. What describes us as a human being is not our last name or who we look like; who we are comes down to the people who we grew up around.
They are the people who hape us, whether it is in a positive manner or a negative one. By looking up to and learning from those in our families and in our communities, we learn about life and we grow as Individuals. This growth Is very well portrayed In Vanessa and her relationship with the Connors and the MacLeods. Legally, she is a MacLeod; she has the last name and she is the daughter of the last man of the MacLeod’s family. However, this family Is very foreign to her. She Is not familiar to the customs and the people.
Due to this unfamiliarity, she considers herself to be a Connor, because she is better accustomed to the atmosphere of the family. She might not see her slmllarlty to someone Ilke Granaratner Connor, out sne
Page 2 Fazeleh-YM Chapter Essay
senses tnat sne Delongs In that house much more than she does in the MacLeod house. The reason for this is very simple; she was much more shaped by the Connors than she was ever influenced by the MacLeods. Mindset wise, she is a Connor. She shares very similar beliefs with them because they are the ones that built her outlook of life for her.
This is also why she tends to disagree with many of the things that Grandmother MacLeod says; because they go against what she hears from Grandfather Connor and from the Connors in general. Almost everyone around her is a Connor. She sees how they talk about Grandmother MacLeod and she seems to be a little embarrassed to be considered a MacLeod because of it. In her eyes, one has to be hardworking and upright, similar to what she has been taught by Grandfather Connor. Grandmother MacLeod is neither one of those things. In fact, she even makes Ewen to hire a girl so she can live easier.
Vanessa finds it hard to compromise with her grandmother. They live in two different worlds that were shaped by very different people. These differences cannot be easily overcome. The differences between them are what distinguish Vanessa from being a MacLeod. It is important to her that she stays like the Connors because she sees and notices the bad view of the MacLeods among the Connors; she does not want to be like that. Since she is so deeply influenced and shaped by the mindset of the Connors, she cannot escape being one. Much like her, we cannot escape becoming like the ones who shape us.
We breathe in the personality and beliefs of those around us, which help build our characters and us as individuals. Just like Vanessa, we are also influenced by those who we wish not to be ike. We see them and notice the things they do and say, and we choose to not do those things. We do not necessarily inherit who we are, because at any point we can decide to be someone different and go down a different path in life. However, we are shaped by our families. Children are like fresh clay (young Vanessa) that get shaped into beautiful works of art (mature Vanessa) by those we look up to (Connors and MacLeods). . “[Grandmother MacLeod’s] men were all gone, her husband and her sons, and a family whose men are all gone is no family at all”(103). This quote has a lot of ignificance. It shows growth. It shows the changing of Vanessa’s mindset from a positive and romantic view of life to a more sophisticated, harsh and mature view of life. To completely understand the quote, one must understand the background. This is something that Vanessa thinks as Grandmother MacLeod is leaving for her sister’s place after the death of Ewen (Vanessa’s father).
On the surface, this quote explains now that Ewen is gone, the MacLeod house is truly is ruins, and hence why “a family whose men are all gone is no family at all”. This is not something that Vanessa would ypically say or think; this is something that Grandfather Connor would say. However, it is from Vanessa’s thoughts that we, as the readers, come upon this. Through this quote and this moment in the story, the similarities between Vanessa and Grandfather Connor become even more evident. It shows how Vanessa beings to tnlnK Ilke nvm ana view a Tamlly wltnout any men In It as Tallen apart Along wltn quote, comes a turning point in the story.
It is where Vanessa truly starts to view things in life as her grandfather would, which is something that even she does not otice. The likeness between these two characters begins to emerge and the influence of her grandfather over Vanessa becomes clear in that one sentence. Grandfather Connor likes to think that the man of the house has the duty to protect those in the family and keep them together and support them. In his mind, without a man in the house, the house is bound to fall apart and die, because it becomes fragile and unsupported.
A house without a man, in his view, is like a house without a proper foundation to sit on. This is why when Grandmother MacLeod was leaving, he “looked even smaller than usual in her fur coat and her black velvet toque” (103). Grandmother MacLeod no longer has that protection and support to be strong. Without the men to protect her, she has become small and fragile; as if she would break if one were to take yet another thing from her, although she has nothing left. To her, the house and her family were everything. With that gone, she’s broken and hurt.
Vanessa had not been able to see that hurt before, because she had been blinded by other things and also because she didn’t seem to have much in common with her. However, now that she has lost her father, she is able to connect to how Grandmother MacLeod feels and she is able to understand why she seems to small and broken. She notices Grandmother MacLeod’s weakness, which is something that she had seen before. Overall, this quote serves to show Vanessa’s growth by having her think in a way that her grandfather would do so. Vanessa, at this moment in the story, takes on the perspective of Grandfather Connor. 11.
At the age of seventeen, long after the death of her father, Vanessa finds a letter in her father’s drawers. It’s a letter written in French, accompanied by a picture of “an rdinary middle-class girl” (104), addressed to her father. The content of the letter is not revealed since Vanessa has very limited knowledge in French, however the letter symbolizes something very important; her father’s past and who he really was. The letter is a symbol for a side of Ewen that Vanessa never saw. All she ever knew of her father was the caring and hardworking side; a part of him that was very typical for the man in charge of a household.
Ewen, in Vanessa’s eyes, was flawless; never made any mistakes and always supported his family no matter what situation they were placed in. Since she had lost him at a young age, she never got to truly understand his imperfections and weaknesses. She lived years thinking that he never made mistakes in his life and was completely perfect. Upon seeing that letter, she realized that perhaps her father kept some secrets, not Just from her, but also from her mother. Those secrets involved the mistakes he had made throughout the years. She also became aware of the life that his father lived before he was married and had children.
Vanessa found the letter in a drawer that she did not know about; this represents the known past of her father. The life he lived during the war and her uncle. The way that the letter was describes as being “written on almost transparent paper” ) renects tne Olstant memory 0T twen In Vanessa’s mlna ana nls even more distant past. All these things combined, represent the flaws and Ewen’s past that Vanessa does not want to accept. They ruin her father’s image in her mind, therefore making it as if she never knew him; they made him more human in her eyes. Yet, at the same time, she felt a sense of duty to him.
She felt that she needed to protect his past from others like her mother, because if her father had wanted eople to know, he would have shared there things before he died. Once again, where and how she came across this letter serves as an important symbol to let the reader know that Ewen’s past is meant to be kept a secret. Due to this reason, Vanessa, burn the letter and the picture. She feels “that was all (she) could do for him” (104); keep the past that he worked so hard to keep hidden as a secret. At the same time, the burning of the picture represents Vanessa’s efforts to keep the image of her father from changing in her mind.
She does not want to see him as a man with laws and mistakes; he has to remain perfect. He is the perfect father, the best doctor, and a caring husband; Just as any man should be in the minds of their daughters. However, as children grow, they begin to realize the flaws of their parents, and the sooner these realizations are made, the sooner they are able to relate to them and accept them as human beings. For Vanessa, these realizations came too late. Now that her father is gone, she doesn’t want that picture-perfect image to be ruined. The burning represents her denial and, at the same time, her realization.
This is why “(she) grieved for (her) father as though he had died Just (then)” (104). 8. The dead write the past and influence the present, while the living writes the present and influences the future. This never ending cycle creates a relationship between the dead and the living. As a young child, Vanessa does not pay much attention to those who are dead; they are the past and, in her mind, they do not affect her at all. Someone like her Uncle Roderick, who died many years before she was even born, doesn’t play a very important role in her life, simply because he’s not there to directly nfluence it.
However, throughout the story, she begins to realize the indirect influences that her uncle has had and continues to have in her life. She starts to see traces of him everywhere. These influences become more evident by the death of Grandmother Connor. She notices how others are affected by her death and she also notices how they affect her. Therefore, she begins to realize that the connection between her uncle and her is not Just by blood; it is something even deeper. The connection comes from the influence his life and his death has had on people like her father and her grandmother.
This is clearly seen in the way her view of the Remembrance Day Ceremony changes as she talks to her father and her grandmother about it. She sees their pain; the pain left behind not Just by Uncle Roderick’s death but also by the life he lived and the choices he made while he was alive. Vanessa realizes and becomes aware that the life of Uncle Roderick shaped those who she lives with now. As a child, her personality and mentality are shaped by those who she looks up to and learns from, and since those people are shaped by someone wno nas passed away, In an Indirect way sne Is Delng snapea Dy ner aeaa ncle.See More on Family