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Liberty Falls: A Place of Change

KatarinaKF's picture

The environment in which you grew up shapes your identity. The people who live around you shape your political stance, mannerisms, and beliefs. In the majority of cases, this is true. And in "All Over Creation", two of the character's environments did shape their identity. For Yumi Fuller and Cass Quinn, both women struggled growing up to find their identities in their hometown of Liberty Falls, Idaho. The conservative nature and mannerisms of the town, and their parents, influenced both women to stray from the norm. Yumi grew up to be a liberal and "free spirited" adult, unlike her conservative and strict parents and members of her community. Cass grew up to be a loving, strong, and caring parent unlike her abusive father. The identities of Yumi and Cass were shaped by experiences dealt within their families and outsiders they interacted with.

First, it began with Yumi. It starts off when she had an affair with her high school history teacher, who is considered outsider. She then ran away at the age of fourteen after her father, a pro-life supporter, found out she got an abortion. Yumi left “…because he used to love me, and then somewhere along the line, when he couldn’t control me anymore, he just stopped…” (242). She matured quickly and made a life for herself in Hawaii. Twenty-five years later she returned to her hometown to care for her old and frail parents. When Yumi returned, her past caught up with her in Liberty Falls. She was swarmed by the good and bad memories of her childhood. As painful as some of memories were, she discovered her purpose in life and learned to become a better mother. Yumi’s defiance towards the environment she grew up in helped her become someone she wanted to be.

As a matter of fact, Yumi began to notice a difference in her beliefs starting in the ninth grade. “…there was a man, a history teacher named Elliot Rhodes…The power of his knowledge made you weak in the knees…He pressed you to question your beliefs, to think about real ideas” (20). Elliot, in Yumi’s eyes was “… an activist. A man of conscience!” (22). Those very words disgusted Lloyd. An argument then broke out between the two of them. He questioned, “What happened to your morals, Yumi?” (22). It began at that moment when Yumi’s relationship with her father became strained.

The strain in their relationship made Yumi become Liberal while her father remained Conservative. The disagreements she had with her father caused her to have different beliefs from her parents. The only time she could get along with her father was near his death. After Lloyd passed, Yumi realized, through Cass’s guidance, that not everything is Lloyd’s fault. It is especially not his fault for her “being a really lousy mother…” (390). This realization made her want to become a better mother for her kids, especially her son, when they moved back to Hawaii. “…I've been even less mommylike recently and I'm sorry about that…But that’s over now. I'm on track. I promise” (405). When Yumi leaves Liberty Falls at the end of the novel, the puzzle that was her life was almost finished. She found the last piece when she started her life over again, at the very beginning, in Hawaii with her children.

In another case, Cass finds her identity after adopting Charmey and Frankie’s baby, Tibet. Cass longed to have a child of her own but was infertile due to the exposure of pesticides on the farm. Luckily when Yumi came to back to Liberty Falls, Cass was given the opportunity to act as a mother and care for Yumi’s children. She was a kind, motherly figure, more than Yumi was. Especially towards Poo, and in the time they spent together they would “…play patty-cake, or roll a ball…or bang a spoon on the bottom of the pot” (129). Cass’s kindness masked the fact that she had a tough childhood. “Maybe the cold made him madder, because he went on and on, raising the belt and bringing it down, like he was doing it to keep warm” (pg. 36). Living with an abusive father encouraged Cass to become a better parent for her future children and so they would not have to deal with the physical and mental pain as she did. Cass’s caring and loving nature will give Tibet a happy life.

In conclusion, it was interesting to read how each character found their identities from their surroundings. What is also intriguing is how outsiders played a role in their lives. For Yumi, it was Elliot, starting in the ninth grade. He introduced her to new ideas and experiences that made her grow up faster. And for Cass, it was Charmey and Tibet. Although it is sad to think that if Charmey hadn’t died in the Spudnik explosion, Cass would most likely not have become a mom to Tibet. Still, with the passing of characters in and out of their lives it in fact, benefitted their lives in the end. 


Anne Dalke's picture

Thanks for this revision of your paper about Yumi; I think adding Cass as a foil and compliment to her growth and change is a very interesting move—does it suggest that a “change in environment,” or what you call “defying the environment you grew up in” isn’t always necessary for us to break away from the scripts assigned us by our parents? You show Yumi running away from her dad, becoming different from him; but you also show Cass staying with hers, and still differentiating. This contrast interests me…

Coupla of your claims still need some back-up; I’m not convinced yet that Yumi “learned to become a better mother” (do you trust her promises?) and I’m a little shocked that you think that “the puzzle that was her life was almost finished.” No further growth and development? I’d say, @ 66, that I’m still deep in that process, and that it’s far from finished. For example, your description of the Liberal daughter and her Conservative father put me in mind both of one of my current dilemmas, and also of a podcast Marian just sent me, which she thought might resonate for me and my father:

You say that Cass is “infertile due to the exposure of pesticides on the farm”; that’s certainly a hypothesis, but do we know for sure? You say that she will “give Tibet a happy life” (and I’m sure she will, though of course that’s speculating beyond where the novel goes). And/but in changing her daughter’s identity from “Tibet” to “Betty,” what possibilities for growth and change might Cass be stifling?

Let’s also talk some more in conference about how to keep working on the move from description to analysis. You conclude, for example, by saying “it was interesting to read how each character found their identities from their surroundings.” That is a description; how could you make it into an argument? One likely thread might be the intriguing question with which you follow: “how outsiders played a role in their lives.” But please come to the conference with a coupla other ideas. Also you end by saying “in conclusion.” Might you try, next time, to avoid that? NOT to conclude, but to end with some sort of “opening” to the next question?

 We’ll also need to think together about your next paper: does this draft have an emergent third one in it, or might you be ready to start drafting a new paper about The Collapse of Civilization?