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Diverting Expectations

Bdragon's picture

Some people receive their characteristics from genetics, but their identity could also come from other places. A person’s identity can from their family, because usually they are the ones who influence their beliefs and values. Then their beliefs and values usually determine how they are as a person. There are people who do not want to be like the rest of their family, and diverge to create their own identity. In Susan-Lori Parks novel, Getting Mother’s Body, the town expects Billy to turn out just like her family specifically her mother, but she proves them wrong. Similarly, Yumi in All Over Creation by Ruth Ozeki, goes against what that her parents expected her to have.

      What does it mean to be a Beede? Dill Smiles says “I don’t got no time for no jalopy... a Beede would have time but a Smiles would not” (35). One characteristic of a Beede is that they waste their time on nonsense and create more problems for themselves. According to Roosevelt Beede, a Beede is “able to bear the unbearable” (107). Second characteristic is that such out of the ordinary and hard to believe events happen to them, that they have gotten accustomed to it. Estelle “Star” Beede believes that a Beede will “just show up on your front doorstep smelling of sweat and saying they’re hungry” (135). Another characteristic is that they are just all over the place, and do as they please without consideration of others. Many people also refer to their bad luck as “Beede luck” since many unfortunate events seem to gravitate towards them.

       Whether Billy likes she shares a lot of similarities Billy is very vocal about she does not like to be compared to her mother, but from the beginning one can see the strong similarities. Willa Mae had two babies from different fathers and she was not even married to either of them. Dill describes as Billy having “her baby-belly and no husband…father-she-ain’t- never knowd run off and dead probably; mother run wild and dead certainly” (48). This goes back to the “Beede Luck” where unbelievable and absurd situations happen to the member of the Beede family.  Additionally, Wille Mae and Billy also set themselves for doom, which is part of being a Beede since they attract mayhem. This is exactly what the town had expected Billie to become, and she was starting to follow her mother’s footsteps of failure. Yet despite these obstacles that she faced Billy was able to overcome her town’s expectation, where she got married, had a career, and had two children.

    Moreover, Yumi has a similar experience where she was expected to be a certain person, but turns away from that. From when Yumi was a young child she had put pressure on her and her father said “Finish up and go on home, Cass. It’s getting late” (25). Llyod, Yumi’s father, wants her to be a good child that follows his rules and never goes against him. Right before he had come in, Yumi was talking with her friend Cass about she was having an affair with her teacher. Yumi had felt so ashamed that she did not follow her father’s expectation, “the shame was yours, and I knew if I stayed, I’d be poisoned by it I’d grow up all screwy and bent with the weight of your shame” (37). Yumi diverts from the identity that her parents strived to be, because she knew what she had did was wrong and did not want to face their judgment. All the pressure to be the innocent child that her parents wanted her to be made her want to run away and she did. She still comes back home with a degree, married, has kids, and a teacher. She made mistakes through the process, but she was still able to get back up and still have some success in her life. Getting away from her parent’s expectations allowed for her to grow as a person, and do something with her life because she herself truly wants to.

    Both characters go through different obstacles, yet by doing so they both divert from what they are expected to be and make a life out of it. Billie was always told you’re going to have “Beede” bad luck and that you will turn out like your mother. Billie does start off going down the path that her mother had, but yet in the end she had everything her mother was never going to have. Than for Yumi, she started off being the person her parents did not want her to become, but she also in the end still had a decent life. They had to go through their own obstacles to figure out what they wanted in their life, and is when they discovered they have to do what is best for them. They learned that they do not have to be what people expect them to be.

   There are always going to be people, who tell others what they will be.  A person should go through their own mistakes and obstacles in life to really discover who they are as person. They will learn things about themselves that they did not really think of before. I haven’t finished the whole novel so I’m not sure that Yumi is the successful person that she started off, but it’s still inspiring that she was able to have some successful without the help on her parents.  One should never get discouraged about their obstacles in life, but instead use those as their advantage to push them harder to be better. 


Anne Dalke's picture

I like your trying to extend your past paper, on the role of inheritance in Getting Mother’s Body, into a comparative analysis of Parks’ and Ozeki’s novels. You conclude that comparison with an admiring description of something very different from inheritance, a celebration of both Billy and Yumi for going “through their own obstacles to figure out what they wanted in their life,” which “is when they discovered they have to do what is best for them. They learned that they do not have to be what people expect them to be.”

What  I’m really liking here is that the revision (and addition of a second novel) actually enabled you to re-think your original claim (really to flip it on its head?). To me, this shows you thinking-while-writing. Yay for that!

Of course, as you say, you hadn’t finished Ozeki’s novel when you wrote this draft, so one question going forward will be what the whole novel has to offer to your claims—will it extend them, or turn them upside down? Your challenge will really be how to develop an argument out of what is now an admiring description of Yumi’s life, and the model she offers us all—“it’s inspiring that she was able to have some success without the help on her parents.  One should never get discouraged about their obstacles in life, but instead use those as their advantage to push them harder to be better.” How can you use all the descriptive material you’ve gathered to construct a claim based on the story Ozeki tells? Is there a way to make this into an argument that has to do with “identity and environment”?

Looking forward to finding out!

P.S. We didn’t get around to working through grammatical corrections @ your last conference; let’s both try to remember to do some of this work @ the beginning of our next session together.