May 4, 2008

Empire Falls: Parents and Children

Posted in Empire Falls tagged at 9:25 am by Ms. Davis

From the almost unimaginable cruelty of John Voss’s parents to Mrs. Whiting’s coldness toward Cindy, to Grace’s withdrawal from David (and to some extent Miles) when she joins the Whiting household, the novel contains several examples of the emotional and physical harm parents inflict on their children. Why do you think Russo made this a central theme of the book? Does it adequately explain or even justify behavior you would otherwise find completely unacceptable?



  1. cakequeen2 said,

    Sometimes parents see themselves within their children,and I think Russo makes this a central theme by allowing readers to be aware that such behavior does exist in our society. Mrs. Whiting may be cruel to Cindy, but she uses Cindy as her target when it is really Charles Whiting she needs to be cruel to. Grace withdraws from David, not because she doesn’t love him, but because his existence is a constant reminder of her sorry lot in life with Max. I won’t even comment on the psychotic behavior of the Voss family. It is never justifiable to treat one’s child in any manner but a loving one, and only explains to me the complete egocentrical behavior of people.

  2. Ms. Davis said,

    I think part of the theme here is parents exacting revenge or living through their children. Maybe the parents feel like their children are the only thing they can control in their lives. I think Russo is sending the message that WE must take control of our lives and our problems by facing them directly. Clearly these parents were unsuccessful in resolving their problems because they did not really address the root causes for their discontent.

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