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Family is one of the most important things that human beings can have in their lives. A family gives us support and love to face every aspect and event of life; so, what happen with those people who cannot enjoy of this precious gift? What is their destiny in a society with a hard lifestyle? What possibilities do they have to find someone who could love them?
Family abandonment is an interesting topic that has existed since the beginning of the society and in my opinion it is when a person abandons his relatives and let them alone to face life and deal with the social problems by their own. Abandonment can be due to many different causes, such as: the lack of support in childhood, inability to take care of relatives, fear from a drastic change in life, fear due to personal illnesses or diseases, the lack of love and sensitiveness in their hearts, the death of a relative, and the most important for me, poverty due to social problems.
In this essay I am going to take as reference two characters from two different novels. They are Oliver Twist from the novel "Oliver Twist", and Victoria Roubideaux from "Plainsong". The settings of these novels are different from each other and also their effect on the characters; however, the situation of these two characters is similar, they both were abandoned by their relatives and they have to face life by their own, looking for that missed love that they did not have. To explain myself better, I should write what each novel is about.
First, we have Oliver Twist, a little kid whose mother died on the street after giving birth to him. Oliver lives in an orphanage all his life until he "starts" a disturbance just for asking for more food. Then, when Oliver is scolded and punished he escapes from the orphanage and finds Mr. Sowerberry, an undertaker and Noah Claypole, Sowerberry's friend. Unfortunately, Oliver has problems with them too and runs away to London, where he meets Jack Dawkins, a boy who invites Oliver to stay with him and his "protector", Mr. Fagin, an old man who train kids to be thieves. He sends Oliver to a mission but he gets scared and runs away again, being caught by Mr. Brownlow, who takes Oliver to his house. However, Oliver is caught again by Fagin's accomplices and obligated to enter into a house to burglar it. Here Oliver is shot by servant and is asked to stay in Mrs. Maylie's house.
After many events Oliver is taken to Mr. Brownlow again, who reveals him the truth about his family and the heritage that he will receive from them. at the end of the novel Mr. Fagin pays for his crimes and Oliver is adopted by Mr. Brownlow to live with the Maylies, Oliver's new family. .
On the other hand we have Victoria Roubideaux, a teenager who leaves home because her mother has realizes that she is pregnant and does not want to support her. Her mother considers her as a useless and stupid person whose father has run away from home too because of his irresponsibility. When Victoria wanders through the town of Holt, she meets Maggie Jones, a high school teacher who decides to help her. Victoria stays with Maggie Jones for a while until she gets in trouble with Maggie's ill father. So Maggie Jones still helps Victoria to find her another house to stay; she visits the McPheron brothers, two old men who still live together and who have never gotten married. At first they are not convinced but after a while they decide to help the girl.
Victoria arrives to the McPheron's house and during the first days it was difficult for her to interact with them. Maggie Jones acts as a mediator and strengthens the relationship with the girl and the brothers. After many events, the brothers and Victoria creates strong family ties and get happy because of these changes in their lives. From the body of the story until the end of it the McPherons love Victoria's presence and give her many gifts to prove their happiness for her and the baby. Victoria is happy too and thanks the brothers for being generous with her. The story ends when Victoria's baby is born and taken to the McPherons, where they are going to live in a environment which will give them the satisfaction and love of feeling part of a family.
As we could note, each of these characters has a different way to deal with his problems. The settings are different; Victoria is raised in a small town of Colorado called Holt during the 1980's, while Oliver grows in the Victorian age during the 1800's. It is clear that the setting takes an important role to develop the characters' primary instincts in order to survive and face difficulties.
Oliver lives in a hard era, where the strict rules of the queen Victoria and the new social economical problems lead England to a total chaos based on poverty and robbery. When Oliver escapes we can see that he could not avoid this lifestyle when he meets the secret society of kids trained by Fagin for pick pocketing. Oliver is absorbed by these people in order to find an easy way for his problems; this is the first time he is important and noticed into a group, even if it focused on robbery. ("You musn't say you saw me. Dick" said Oliver. "I am running away." Oliver Twist, page 50)
What I find interesting in this novel is that Oliver stays firm on every decision he makes and never loses his innocence, which will help find to continue and never give up in the mission of finding a new home where he could restart his life. Oliver has the spirit and strength to keep going even if the society makes it difficult for him. In this book the bad side of the society is represented by Mr. Fagin, the old man whose purpose is to train kids for his own benefits, without worrying about them and risking them to be caught by the police.
Here we can see that Mr. Fagin is coward and intelligent at the same time; coward because he does not want to the job by his own, so he takes advantage of kids who would everything to survive in that society; and intelligent because he is not risking his life in every mission. He just has to sit and wait for kids to give them some privileges as smoking and drinking, the dream of every child of feeling older to fit in the society.
In my opinion, this not only happens in the novel; there are kids or people in general who would dare to do bad things in order to fit in the society and survive. Oliver's reaction to his bad experiences in the orphanage was being part of a gang, which would give him the respect he could not obtain from a family, and also that he would not be loved in the same way by his "friends" and by a real family. ("It has been taken down, child, because Mr. Bronwlow said, that as it seemed to worry you, perhaps it might prevent your getting well, you know," rejoined the old lady." Oliver Twist, page 94)
Then we have Victoria, she is a teenager and finds easier to face problems and solve them. The first thing she does when she leaves home is to wander for a while and return later to confirm that her mother's decision was true. After she realizes that, her only opportunity to survive is looking for a job and a different place to live. However, this gets more difficult for her due to the pregnancy.
In this part of the novel I could note that Victoria is lucky for finding help that easy, and here is where we can realize that her situation is different to Oliver's. She lives in a small town where people are used to be kind and helpful with each other. Maggie Jones is the woman who is motivated to help Victoria by bringing her a place to stay and the feeling of being protected. (After a while Maggie said, "but you know my father's here too. I don't know how he's going to understand this. He's an old man. But you're welcome tom stay here. We'll just have to see" Plainsong, page 37)
Victoria cannot waste this opportunity to change her life and her baby's, so she does what she can in order to not feel useless. I admire the way Victoria takes the courage to continue with her studies while she is waiting for her baby. This demonstrates that she is worried about her future as a single mother who will do what is necessary to assure a better life for her child.
When Victoria is asked to move with the McPheron brothers she is not convinced at first because of the idea of living with two old men; however, she sees that this is going to be a good way to test her as an independent person who is capable of make important decisions by her own. While she is with the old brothers she takes an important role in their lives which used to be solitary; her presence is valuated and she feels for first the love of being part of a family. ("Mrs. Jones, I don't know if I can do this..." Plainsong, page 123)
Every decision that Victoria makes is for goodness of her baby. She wants to give him the love that she had never received and that now she had from two unknown old men. In my opinion, this is when Victoria realizes that it is not necessary to have the same blood, but to share the idea of bringing and receive love and happiness without expecting anything in exchange. I think that love is a powerful force that can change our lives if we know how to appreciate it; just as Victoria does; she gives everything to be accepted by the McPherons to raise her baby in a happy environment. ("You and your brother want to keep that girl out there with you, don't you" Plainsong, page 161)
As I have told about the main characters of both novels, I consider important to talk about the characters who rescue Victoria and Oliver from their tragedies. First there is Mr. Brownlow, the old man who rescues Oliver Twist. They have their first encounter when Oliver's "friends" tried to steal Mr. Brownlow wallet, then the old man caught Oliver and took him to his house. As the novel tells, Mr. Brownlow noticed something familiar in Oliver that made him realize about his innocence; he could also see that Oliver was easy to persuade by other people, and that this had led him to make friendship with thieves and burglars.
. Then, at the end of the story Oliver is adopted by the same Mr. Brownlow because it is revealed that he knew Oliver's parents, who left him a heritage and that now Oliver will be able to receive. These both are the reasons of why Mr. Brownlow decided to adopt Oliver to give him the warm love of a family.
On the other hand we find the McPheron Brothers, two old men who never got married and who have lived together all their lives. In the novel they explain that their parents died since they were very young, and since that moment they have never separated. This shows us how they just have each other and that they have created a family based on their mutual love and brotherhood.
When Victoria arrives, they were shy and they did not know how to behave; what show us that they had been a long time without a female presence in their house. For this reason they do not how to treat a woman and ask Maggie for tips to keep Victoria comfortable. I believe that the McPheron brothers started to like Victoria's company and that they get used to her until consider her as a daughter. ("Because you think it's kind of nice havind a girl in the house, don't you? YouÂ´ve gotten kind of used to having her out there with you? Plainsong, page 161)
It is easy to understand Mr. Brownlow and the McPherons because since the first time they appear in the novels we can realize that they are kind and gentle, and also that they have many things in common even of the settings where they develop their stories. I would like to make a contrast between the people who abandoned Oliver and Victoria, and the characters who rescued them. Oliver Twist's mother died while she was giving birth, what makes sure that if she had survived she may have taken care of her son. Mr. Brownlow is a relative who never doubted of taking care of Oliver, trying to give him all the years that he had lost in the orphanages and the street. At the end Oliver stays with his real family.
On the other hand I find more interesting that Victoria finds shelter with people who were not her direct family. Her mother is really strict and did not doubt in abandon Victoria even if she is pregnant. The McPherons had lost their parents and never had shared their house with a woman, so, when Victoria arrived they find this situation interesting and valuable for them. During the novel, Victoria's mother does not appear and the author does not show her in any chapter after Victoria leaves home. I should say that is amazing how the McPherons and Victoria learned to interact in a good way to give live to their house before and after the birth of Victoria's baby.
As I have mentioned before, Victoria's and Oliver's lives changed drastically in a good way; so after a hard quest they find the love and the families that could not love them since their births. Oliver passed all his childhood wondering why he was in the orphanage, while Victoria is forced to abandon her real family in order to look for love in other place. At the end of both stories, Oliver and Victoria find new families and find happiness after suffering too much.
As a conclusion I should say that love arrived when we less expect it and that if we already have it, we should appreciate it, dedicating every time we can to reinforce the family ties that give us the security of being part of a wonderful family.