Throughout time family has always been an important part in everybody’s life and may have sometimes influenced people lives. Even in books or play family is in the center of the stories. It is perpetually somehow present and may sometimes cause the main conflict, but does the root of all chaos constantly stems from the family? Sometimes other facts can be taken into account to justify the chaos surrounding us. In the play, Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare, the story perfectly illustrates that “the roots of all chaos stems from family”.
One of the central conflicts in it is the impossible love between two members of feuding families. The feud between the 2 families has been going on for many years. At the very beginning of the play the prologue tells us all about the hate and envy between the 2 houses. “The fearful passage of their death-marked love, And the continuance of their parents’ rage Which, but their children’s end, naught could remove, Is now the two hours’ traffic of our stage…(prologue, 9-12)”
The play begins with the main conflict between the Capulet’s and the Montague’s in Verona. These two powerful families had been feuding for years, to the point that no one remembers the initial cause of their hate. No leader of either household even thought about making peace which would have prevented all the drama to happen. Only after the death of several members of their families they realized how wrong they were. The conflict and violence between the 2 houses has its climax just after Romeo’s and Juliet’s marriage.
Tybalt murders Mercutio in act III, scene 1. His dying words are “A plague o’ both your house” which foreshadow the end of the play, and the end of the violence. Mercutio’s death enrages Romeo who decides to challenge Tybalt “either thou or I must go with him” (act 3 scene 1). Romeo fights against Tybalt and kills him. So as we can see in Romeo and Juliet the chaos comes only from the family. But is this true for all stories? In some other situations the chaos may not only come from the family but also from the society of the time.
In the autobiography Black Boy written by Richard Wright we can see that in on hand the violence inside his family had some influence in the chaos of Richard’s life and of the story, but in the other hand the societal context of the time grandly influenced the conflicts of the story. During his life Richard has been cursed, beaten, or slapped every time he stood up to Granny, Aunt Addie or other members of his family. He has always lived in a family where violence was a part of his normal and everyday life.
So little by little violence takes overs Richards mind, and starts to react violently with most of his problems. For example at school in order to gain the respect and acceptance Richard felt the obligation to show his power and strength. Also he reacted with violence inside his own house. Once he threatened his Aunt Addie with a knife. Another important incident that occurred during his childhood was when Richard was just a little boy; One day Richard and his brother, were playing with a noisy cat they had find outside which woke up their father, Nathan.
Angrily Nathan shouted “kill that damn thing”. Richard even though he knew his father didn’t want him to really kill the kitten, he still did it. On the other hand Richard’s story and his character were also shaped by the societal context at the time. Richard was a black boy and he grew up in the south. At that time racism towards the black people was very severe. They were considered has slaves and people taught that their lives weren’t worth more than the one of an animal.
We can see throughout the book that racism affected relations between whites and blacks, but also relations among black themselves. When Richard moved to Memphis and started working in an optical shop, some white employees of competing optical shop tried to put up a fight between Richard and Harrison, another black employee, but they met secretly and figured out what was going on, but they still remained suspicious of one another. So when the white men offered to pay Richard and Harrison five dollars each to box one another, they agreed, planning to fake the fight.
When the fight started, however, Richard and Harrison realized that they did not know how to fake it. Their frustrations at being manipulated take over, and they fight each like two animals forgetting their deal. Aside from that in the novel whites generally treat Richard with no respect because of the color of his skin. During all his childhood Richard has been used to racism from the white people. One day Richard neglects to call one of the whites “sir,” So they smashed a whiskey bottle in his face, causing him to fall from the vehicle.
One of the other important aspects that Richard Wright’s critique in his book is that the black community itself is unable or unwilling to educate him properly. He realizes later on that he has been kept from such education when he discovers his love for literature. In both of the stories family has a role to do in the chaos, but as we can see from Black Boy society determines how the family acts. If at that time racism wasn’t part of the culture of the United States, Richard’s family wouldn’t have acted the same way. Family is in a way not independent from the society because the family is part of the society itself.