A Review Of Sherman Alexie’s Novel Family In Flight
Family is always a topic many authors want to write about and dig deeply due to the fact that everyone has a family in their minds whether it is biological. However, like anything in this life, a family could not always go well all the time without change, acceptance and sympathy. The themes of the story “Flight” will show us many emotional tones that any families have to get through such as family’s love, family’s conflicts and the law of life.
The first trait which protects and preserves a family is love. Despite many characters and many ways to express, blood relatives still love each other. As we can see, the old man in the story loves his granddaughter Alice so much that he does not want to let her leave. He wants to keep her to stay with him like pigeons. If he does not love her, he will not have that thinking. “She’s the last. Can’t we keep her a bit longer?” Only love makes people be fearful, be jealous and be possessive. He is not only afraid of losing her but also jealous with Steven. The same feeling is for his daughter Lucy and the other granddaughters. If he does not love them, he will not feel the pain of loss whenever they get married. It is illustrated through he keeps questioning Lucy like “Why do you make your girls marry? Why?” Lastly, only love can make him be repentant after shouting at Alice many times and make him sacrifice for Alice’s happiness at the end of story.
However, any family has to experience arguments at least once in life due to generation gap. The old man is the oldest one in this family and he just has pigeons to be friends. The old could easily feel lonely and unhappy with many things. This leads to be possessive and uncherished when everybody has gone though the dovecote is his refuge from his house. “But now the house would be empty Gone all the young girls with their laughter and their squabbling and their teasing.” He is so afraid of being left behind with his cold daughter that he reacts to marriages strongly to prevent them from leaving like “ ‘Rubbish,’ He shouted. ‘Rubbish. Impudent little bit of rubbish!” or “ ‘Liar,’ he said. ‘Liar” or Lucy’s words “You never did like it when we married. Every time, it’s the same. When I got married you made me feel like it was something wrong. And my girls the same”. If we take a closer look into it, he could not tell what he really thinks except yelling and complaining like a mad person. “But I never meant…” Moreover, he does not want Alice suffer from marriage like her sisters because her innocence and cuteness will be taken away. He wants Alice to be young, pretty and happy forever. “He thought of the other three girls, transformed inside a few months from charming petulant spoiled children into serious young matrons.” In contrast, Lucy is mature and Alice is the youth and they really do not understand the old man’s desire. Lucy wants to see Alice grow up and happy with Steven. Lucy understands her daughter and lets Alice to decide her life. Both of them know the law of life and are ready to change, to leave family and to be challenged. They get married when being slightly young and even Lucy never regret of that. However, the old man does not understand them.
The last theme of “Flight” is the law of life. When people grow up, they have to leave their parents to take care of their own family. This is a circle of life which most people face sooner or later. No one can go against it and the old man’s family is not an exception. If we do not change, we will be left behind. In the story, the old man does not accept this rule many times, from Lucy to Alice. He even gives an age excuse like “She’s eighteen. Eighteen!” then Lucy replies “I was married at seventeen” or responses “But it’s not the same” when Lucy tries to comfort him “Come one, now, Dad. She’ll be down the road, that’s all. She’ll be here every day to see you.” However, at the end of the story, eventually he could realize and learn the lesson of life. He loves his family, this is undeniable, but now he knows he has to let them go. They will fly away and get back because they also love him and still care about him. “It’s for you, Grandad. Steven bought it for you.’ They hung about him, affectionate, concerned, trying to charm away his wet eyes and his misery. They took his arms and directed him to the shelf of birds, one on each side, enclosing him, petting him, saying wordlessly that nothing would be changed, nothing could change, and that they would be with him always. The bird was proof of it.” He is just an old man in the beginning and becomes a true grandfather in the end. And the thing he gets for acceptance the law of life is a new pigeon and Lucy’s happy tears.
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