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Betrayal and Forgivness

aayzahmirza's picture

Human relationships lie at the core of "All Over Creation" with betrayal and forgiveness serving as prevalent themes in the novel. In one way or the other, most characters come face to face with these two phenomenon, and owing to their different backgrounds and personalities, demonstrate a myriad of reactions to them.  

From Lloyd and Momoko feeling betrayed as a consequence of Yumi running away, to Yumi herself being deceived by Elliot numerous times, Ozeki has weaved an intricate web of deception in her book. The motivations and circumstances lying behind such an instance, then become points of interest for me, as I begin to draw parallels between my personal experiences involving these ideas and those of the characters in the book. A plethora of questions arises as I do this, the complexity of which is heightened by the fact that in any such case, there are so many perspectives that we need to keep in mind. Quite a few students in our class, attributed their initial confusion when reading this book to the presentation of the story from the point of view of various individuals and the intermingling of different time periods. Similarly, when I explore betrayal, the motivations behind it, the effect on the one at the receiving end and the consequences, I need to put myself in the place of all the characters involved to better understand all the notion.  

Cass asks Yumi why she ran away(241) to which she replies that she doesn't know followed by the correction that she did it to Punish Lloyd for ceasing to love her when he could no longer control her. Is betrayal, then, deliberate? From this arises the question whether one who deceives is hurt more than the one they betray. From Yumi's letters to her parents, we can see that she tries to make amends almost as soon as she gains some sense of stability in life, but even then she says that she feels a little guilty, but deep down, she knows that what she did was so bad(38). So is the remorse she feels generated only by the reactions of her parents to her leaving, the stereotypical perception of such a betrayal, or her own sense of right and wrong?  

Moreover, even when we have suffered a great betrayal on the hands of one person, what is it that pushes us to welcome them back into our lives. In the case of Yumi's parents, it appears to be necessity and the need for a caretaker, that appears to be the initial motivation behind Lloyd's acceptance of his daughter. However, Yumi throws herself back into Elliot's arms, as it appears, to fulfill her sexual needs, at the cost of once again lying to her family, in the form of her son who is against the liaison. Thus, if having experienced betrayal at the hands of one person, we make ourselves vulnerable to a similar situation again, are we to share some blame in case we get deceived again? Or is the blame to still entirely lie with the person who inflicts the blow?  



artsresistance's picture

If a person has to lie about what he/she does, especially the second time relationship, is that person taking responsiblity for what he/she does?


Sheila Pinkel

Anne Dalke's picture

You are asking questions about some of the hardest challenges of being human—what does it mean to betray? What are the conditions for forgiveness?

I’d like to nudge you, though, beyond the questions you ask about blame into something less judgmental, more analytical.

I think maybe you need help from some theorist, someone who’s reflected on these questions? We haven’t really read anything on this topic in this course.

I have a colleague, though, who wrote
You can find an early version of the book, in the form of a talk Sharon gave, @

These ideas are really coming from psychology, not from political theory; if you are interested in that realm, I’d look @ the last few pages of the “Action” section of Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition.

One of my 360 students posted about this, this semester, first @ /oneworld/arts-resistance/breaking-and-imposing-silence-through-forgiveness

and then again @

Might these open up this topic a little for you?