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Analysis for All Over Creation

Raaaachel Wang's picture

 For last week’s paper, I analyzed the relationship between Billy Beed and her mother, Willa Mae. I claimed the Billy Beede is gradually getting her mother’s body, which means she gets lots of traits from her mother because of some shared living environment and some similar life experience. Besides getting the body of her own mother, she is also getting the body, as well as the mind, of a mature woman. Though Billy Beede may not want to admit, she does have some obvious link with her mother.

Obviously, the relationship between Yumi and her parents is different with that between Billy and her mother. At least, after reading half of this novel, I haven’t find too many similarities between Yumi and her parents.  I’m wondering if it is because Yumi left home for so long time? But it does not make sense any more when I realized that Billy lived with her mother for even shorter time. Then why? Or maybe their similarities can be found in the last half of this novel?

But the relationship between child and parents in both novel has something in common. Both of the daughter, hate, or at least don’t like their parent(s). Neither of their relationships belongs to the harmonic ones. In getting mothers body, the disharmony is might because Willa Mae’s lifestyle, but what caused such a long disharmonic relationship in All Over Creation?

At first, the conflict between Yumi and her father began when Yumi started to “dressed like a begger”. (p.20) Then Yumi seemed to go far and far from her father’s expectation. And when Lloyd found the affair of bYumi and the history teacher, Yumi made the decision to run away. 

Yumi has tried to fixed their relationship. In her letter to her mother, she said “I know there is a lot we don’t agree upon, but you are my father, and I would like to have a relationship with you again. I know

you think what I did was wrong, and I won’t ask you to forgive me, but won’t you even talk to me?”(p.40) But she didn’t get good response. She felt too much disappointed but still, she decided to try again. “Why do we have such a difficult relationship? Why can’t we just love each other like a normal family? I’m trying to understand why I’m so scared of having kids of my own, and I realized it’s because I’m afraid of screwing them up. My friend thinks it’s important for me to share my feelings about this with you, so that’s what I’m doing.” 

But it seems all these effort she made didn’t receive much positive feedback. But at least as one end of this relationship, she did make effort. But Lolyd turned those efforts down. Is this because he didn’t feel like to directly express his feelings or he hadn’t forgive her daughter at all?

And, if it’s because he was still mad at her daughter, I wondered, after all these years, when Yumi comes back again, does he mad at her more because of her early misbehaviors or her leaving home?

“’Don’t they drive you nuts?’ she asked. ‘No. I like them. You drive me nuts.’ She looked hurt. ‘Me? Why?’ ’The way you’re standing there. Either come all the way in or get out.’” (p.147)This makes me feel like Yumi is no longer an independent woman and mother of three children but just a little girl who feels jealous when her father says he like others rather than his daughter. I first thought that Yumi left her family because she doesn’t care about her parents anymore. But this conversation makes me realize that Yumi actually longs for her parents’ acceptance, especially her father’s.

And Lloyd has already changed his mad point after Yumi ran away. He no longer mad at her daughter’s misbehaviors, after so long time. What’s more, in my view, he might realized that he did something wrong about her daughter’s misbehavior years ago. When Ocean happily show her body painting to her grand father,  “Lloyd averted his eyes. ‘Put some clothes on,’ he said. His voice came out sounding harsh and cruel, and instantly he regretted it.” (p.148) Why he “instantly regretted it”? Perhaps he knew if he

had done something differently to her daughter, she might not run away, and for now, maybe he just wanted to compensate his daughter by doing something differently to his granddaughter.

But it seems that her father has never forgiven her running away. “’Fine. Look at the way they dress, then. You would never have let me out of the house dressed like that.’ ‘Didn’t seem to stop you. You left anyway.’ ‘I left because you couldn’t tolerate my lifestyle,’ she said. ‘You left because you couldn’t face your mother and me after what you’d done.’”  (p.147) 

I think one reason of their broken relationship is because of the lack of communication. Lloyd has always refused to have a real talk with her daughter. (I may need more proof here) I wonder if their relationship could finally be fixed at the end of this novel, or new problem may exist because of their problematic


Anne Dalke's picture

I know you felt a little confused, reviewing all your classmates’ papers; some were revising their papers on Getting Mother’s Body, while others were extending their work on Parks’ novel into a study of Ozeki’s. From here on out, we’re not likely all to be in lockstep, so don’t spend too much time comparing what you’re up to, with what others are doing; just work in a direction that seems productive to you.

You’ve made a very good start, here, on a new paper about All Over Creation, one that has many open questions, which you won’t be able to answer until you’ve finished reading the novel. (For example, do we know if Momoko actually shared Yumi’s letters with Lloyd? If not, why not…? How much can we actually understand of her relationship with her daughter?) As you say, you “may need more proof” for some of your claims.

I especially like your close reading of the two scenes with Lloyd in bed, one @ home with Ocean (where you realize that he may be trying to compensate for his failure with his daughter, by doing something different with his granddaughter), and the other in the hospital with Yumi (where you realize that Yumi doesn’t actually hate her parents, but is really just angry with them because she so longs for their acceptance). Very acute insights, those!

I also have a couple of questions about some the presumptions you bring to this project: why do (or how can) you assume that children are like their parents, that this is the default position, while it’s the differences that need explaining? How much of the “broken relationship” you trace between Lloyd and his daughter is because they “lack communication,” and how much of it is because they have profoundly different (perhaps incommunicable) views of the world?

I look forward to seeing where you’ll go with this!

P.S. Let’s also spend some part of our conference reviewing sentence structure, focusing just on that third paragraph…