Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

You are here

rough draft: all over creation -- family and identity

hannah's picture

(note: this is a very rough draft, and it may be rougher than the other ones out there b/c it's still in analysis/sentence outline format. sorry.)

All Over Creation

Ruth Ozeki’s text is an exploration of environment. The social, the religious, and the natural environments influence and are influenced by the characters in the novel. Throughout All Over Creation, the theme of family and identity – the interactions between community and individuality – are reexamined and investigated.

Identity and belonging

  1. "I rubbed my eyes to rub away the images before they unfurled into memories... in an unconscious sequence of automatic gestures, my hand reached toward the wall just as my foot crossed the threshold, resulting in a flood of illumination that startled me -- the spatial relationships were familiar but the details of the room confused me with their sudden clarity. For a moment I wondered where I was" (page 66).
    1. When Yumi first comes home, everything is familiar -- very little in Liberty Falls has changed. And yet, while the environment has changed, she is different and the town has continued without her...
    2. which leads to an interesting contrast between who she is and who people think she is. Her home environment is both influenced by and influencing her.
    3. “The Spudnik was different. When the mute kid opened the door for him and let him inside, it felt exactly the way Frankie imagined a home should feel” (page 51).
      1. Frank draws a clear distinction between a place to sleep and a home. When he describes the Seeds of Resistance as a home, he means somewhere he feels relaxed and alive -- a sort of replacement family. And in this family environment, he develops a greater sense of purpose and belonging.
      2. “I remember a deep, celestial bliss, a sense of galactic stability, which pretty well lasted until my nebula spun out of his control and a dark star crossed my firmament, eclipsing him entirely” (page 69).
        1. Yumi describes her relationship with her father as stability, lasting until Elliot and her ninth-grade year. His love for her gave her a place to belong, in a sense.


Identity and interpersonal relationships

  1. “The two of us… the sense of bonding it conveyed made Cass feel safe for the first time in her life. They were survivors. They belonged together” (page 335).
    1. Cass’s relationship with Will gives them both a certain amount of strength—this is a strong contrast to Yumi, who doesn’t appear to forge bonds with anyone in particular. Even when Cass disagrees with Will, she recognizes that their “belonging” mattered to her at one time, and it affects both how people see her and how she sees them.
    2. Cass and Charmey have a unique relationship as well.
      1. (expand upon)

Identity and perspective affected

  1. "when she had him along, the world looked different, and she liked the way she saw things she'd never noticed before... the way she herself felt acutely visible with the baby in her arms, and the way some people's faces lit up when they saw a child" (page 130).
    1. Cass, who's always wanted to be a mother, realizes that when she has Poo with her she's seen as one. She notices that people treat her differently, and that she can "tell a lot about people" when he's with her. In some ways, our identity (or the salience of different aspects of who we are) is affected by the people with whom we choose to be in relationship.
    2. With Elliot, Yumi shows a very different side of herself. When she first meets him, he acts as a catalyst towards her coming-of-age, allowing her to be someone different than Lloyd and Momoko want her to be.
      1. When she meets him in the present, however, she appears to be using him as an escape. He says he loves her, and he has very few expectations, and so she visits him often. However, in the end, he’s using her as well.


jccohen's picture


I like the idea of looking at "community and individuality" as a way of conceptualizing the identity-environment intersection, and you have a number of evocative quotes and examples here.  But I don't have enough sense of your claim and where you're going with it to comment more extensively at this point... Since we're meeting this week, let's discuss further at that point.