The “Family” deserves special attention not only as being the first novel written by J. California Cooper, but also because of being extremely undervalued by critics and researchers (Cooper 1991). At the same time, the other neo-slave narratives received much more attention of the public and they have been properly evaluated within multiple analyses and critical reports. The novel tells a story of three children of slave Clora that commits suicide but is still “living in the novel as a narrator that follows her children during their lives.
The most interesting and appealing is the character of Always, Clora’s favorite child. First of all, she is the only one of Clora’s children to remain slave (Cooper 141). Therefore, her destiny is full with misfortunes and asperities. Always demonstrates unbelievable inner strength and readiness to all possible challenges that live can have.
Clora is sold to Doak Butler, and from the first day of working for the master her life is full of hatred and sufferings. Doak rapes her and he also indirectly causes death of Plum, Always’ beloved sister. This case represents special importance for me personally because I have a very close relationship with my sister as I have been taking care of her since her early childhood. I cannot imagine how strong this woman was if she could survive and have strengths to live with such a man.
This example is a part of the specific philosophy this woman has to cultivate in her soul in order to survive. This ability to adapt is essential in the contemporary society as well. It gives the ability to control emotions and protect hear from multiple emotional shocks, humiliations and stresses.
Moreover, together with the inside wisdom and unbelievable steadiness to any kind of physical or moral privation, Always has a great heart that still can love and care. It can be seen in the way she tries to give her son a better life. She changes her son with the son of her master. She watches her real son to grow up as a future master of the farm, and she still loves him with all her heart. She tries to protect him in any situation. She even let her Soon, the real son of her master whom she treats like her child, to serve in the Civil War because he will be a servant of Doak, Jr. and therefore he will be protecting her child.
It is the triumph of mother’s love and care. I find this feature of Always’ character to be the key one as it gives the real sense to all her life. This outstanding mother teaches what it means to do everything for your child to give him a better tomorrow. Even though the war ends in death of Doak, Always still highly values her son and his life.
My personal experience supports the importance of this character and the lessons she can teach because my mother is also doing her best to give me and my sister everything we need and even more. This is love that has no end and no limits. The parallel can be seen in Clora’s role in the novel. She loves her children so much that she looks after them even after her death.
It can be seen that the hard destiny of woman and the necessity to develop inner strength in order to survive is the key theme of life of Always. This lesson has to be learned by all women as contemporary society also tries to indirectly enslave women with multiple limitations and restrictions. But, despite all that, Always has taught us that love will ruin all the boundaries and crosses. The energy of this character can be felt during the development of all plot parts as her energy of love and strive to survival are motivating and keeping the attention of the reader. These features of her character has to be studied, analyzed and followed as the best lessons we can be taught by a book.
Cooper, California J. Family. NY: Anchor, 1991. Print.