The Comparison of Paternalism In "The Bean Trees" and Animal Dreams Essay

The Comparison of Paternalism In "The Bean Trees" and Animal Dreams Essay

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Imagine one is in a situation of being mentally ill, completely dependent on people to take care of them and making decisions on behalf of them. This is a very common situation in our world to keep people safe. This practice is called paternalism. Merriam- Webster defines Paternalism as “the policy or practice on the part of people in positions of authority of restricting the freedom and responsibilities of those subordinate to them in the subordinates' supposed best interest”. Many individuals simply define it as the lack of control one has. An example would be a doctor treating a patient in a father/son way to tell them how they will be treated and ignore their wishes and ability to decide for themselves. In some cases it has to be done for individuals that are older or mentally ill who can’t make proper decisions for themselves. Nowadays, it’s not a very popular way to treat people because of many wanting a second opinion and people being more knowledgeable on illnesses from the internet, health journals, etc. In Kingsolver’s novels The Bean Trees and Animal Dreams, there are characters that show characteristics of paternalism because of everyone’s inability to be civil individuals. Arrogance is shown towards an individual’s community, neglect is shown from The United States government towards indigenous people, and abuse is prevalent in a family setting.
An arrogant character in Kingsolver’s Animal Dreams is Doc Homer, who lives in Grace, Arizona. After marrying his second cousin, Athena, he is sent to fight in World War II. Doc also decides to go to medical school while stationed in Illinois. While trying to erase his past as a white trash individual, Doc decides to publish a study in the American Journal of Genetics on ...


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...ic features; it would be interesting to see where these negative emotions stem from. Her bibliography states no history of ever being betrayed by her own small town community in Kentucky, she was never discriminated by the American government, nor has someone abused her. The following quote could lead one to believe Kingsolver could have many dark secrets and writing is her outlet to share them or to heal. “Write about what you know and care deeply about. When one puts one’s self on paper — that is what is called good writing.”- Joel Chandler Harris


Works Cited

Kingsolver, Barbara. The Bean Trees: Novel. New York: Harper & Row, 1988. Print
Kingsolver, Barbara. Animal Dreams: Novel. New York: Harper & Row, 1990. Print
Merriam-Webster. "Paternalism." Merriam-Webster. Britannica Company, 2014. Web. 29 May 2014. .

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