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the attachment

weilla yuan's picture

 Childhood is the foundation of any personality. According to my psychology class, the attachment towards security starts from childhood. There is a famous experiments tested on toddlers about their attachment types. There are mainly three types of attachments: the secure attachment, the avoidant attachment, and the resistant attachment. For secure attachment, the toddlers are very attached to their parents, even after the parents leave them for a while and come back, the toddler would still want to be cuddled. This type of attachment is the most common one, 65%-70% toddlers tend to have this kind of attachment; for the avoidant attachment, the kids would try to avoid their parents when they reunited. This type of attachment happens to 20%-25% kids; the last one is the most rare one, only 10% to 15% of the kids have this attachment. The kids with this attachment would look for contacts with their parents but is “angry and rejecting”.

In Ruth Ozeki’s novel All Over Creation, the two main characters Yumi and Cass show their completely opposite personalities. This shows twenty-five years later during their reunion. Yumi has three kids with different skin colors, whereas Cass has none; Yumi got into college, got to see the world, whereas Cass stayed in the small town her whole life; Yumi tends to take things in an easy and lose way, whereas Cass tends to take things in a serious and blaming way. When Cass picks up Yumi at the airport, she got so nervous that she starts smoking again. Yumi on the other hand, act like they are still close friends(60). Then Cass tries so hard to tell Yumi that she and her husband bought Lloyd’s land, and blames Yumi for “knowing shit about potatos” before Yumi even talks. Yumi taks it easy and laughed, but Cass goes on to say that “I envied you, I was always the potato.” Later on when Cass tells Yumi she cannot get pregnant, Yumi tells her to stop using the pesticide for the potatos, Cass got angry and says it is not that easy. When the girls sit down and talked about the night Yumi ran away, Cass blames Yumi for the miscarries of her babies, and blames her for everything bad luck that Cass has(78,79). The readers would think that Yumi is the protagonist who does everything right, but Cass on the other hand is the “side dish” who is ordinary and not brave enough to break out of her ordinary life.

However, they grew up in similar environments: they were both born in Idaho, the potato kingdom, they are neighbors, schoolmates, best friends, and both got abused by their father. How did they turned out to be totally different people? This may comes from their childhood experience of abuse from their parents. As the book describes, Cass’s father often abuses her physically, and when he does, no body can prevent it (36,37). Yumi’s father Lloyd. On the other hand, has never abused her physically, but mentally. Lloyd forces Yumi to obey him when she was young, and the tone he uses is always very commanding. “Don’t wipe that hard! Now look at what you’ve done!”, “I’m cold, shut that window and come finish what you started.”(153). Also, Yumi confessed towards the end of the book that she loved Lloyd so much, but he stopped because he felt like he could not control her any more (242). The abuses the book describes is just like the parents leaving the children in the psychology experiment. When children think their parents are abandoning them or not like them, they will should different categories of attachments. For Yumi, it is absolutely the avoidant attachment because she ran away from their parents; for Cass, surprisingly, is the secure attachment. So actually, Cass is not timid, but did what most of the children would do --- stay near parents.

Cass is not the bad one, she just did what most of the people would do. While we are reading the book, we might think that Cass has turned into an idealistic woman who always blames others for her life. However, she is just attached to her parents, her life. From an outsider, she might seems unbelievable, but she is most of us.

Even though Cass in the book is sometimes interpreted as ordinary, not brave, always blame others, and idealistic, but she just shows the secure attachment towards her parents and her life like most of the children would do. She did nothing wrong, but chooses to stay with her parents and hang on to her life.



Work Cited

Ozeki, Ruth. Parts I-III. All Over Creation. Penguin, 2004

Rescorla, Leslie. “Lecture 8: Attachment / Autism Spectrum”. PSYC 105.

        Carpenter 21, Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr. September 25th, 2014.







Anne Dalke's picture

I think that drawing on a lectures in your psych class gives you a new, and helpful, angle of vision on Ozeki’s novel; rather than looking for a single cause that distinguishes Cass and Yumi’s personalities, you begin with something psychologists see as fundamental (and prior to experience?—this is the piece I’d like to understand more now: wherefrom these different attachment styles? Are they just inherent?). This reading allows you to move Cass from “side dish” to being exemplary, typical in her actions and reactions. A very interesting “reorientation” to what counts as foreground, what background, in the novel…