Family Ties in Alden Bell’s The Reapers are the Angels Essay

Family Ties in Alden Bell’s The Reapers are the Angels Essay

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In Alden Bell’s The Reapers are the Angels, the family unit persists in the face of a zombie apocalypse. Although not seemingly normal, nor resembling the quintessential nuclear family, the idea of family is very present throughout Temple’s journey. Most families of this post-apocalyptic world operate under a strong sense of denial; a hope that the old world will seep through the seams of the nightmare that sadly is reality. They desperately grasp at traditions of the past with confidence that someday the universe will revert back to its previous state. A blind hope and erroneous optimism guides these groups through the now bleak wasteland; however, hope for a better future is not portrayed as a negative mentality in the novel. Appearing to be useless while remaining amongst their bloodthirsty neighbors, the family endures with confidence. This baseless optimism has pulled the American family through war torn decades and crippling depressions throughout history. Often hope is unjustified and seems unrealistic, but strangely enough, that is why hope exists in the first place.
Standing completely frozen in the 19th century, Belle Isle, an estate that shelters the Grierson family in the novel represents a more traditional, yet tremendously odd, depiction of the familial unit. The household holds Grandmother Grierson, brothers Richard and James, and two African-American servants Johns and Maisie. The presence of these two servants clearly differentiates the residence from the modern day, illustrating a more peculiar, backwards way of thinking. The family chooses to shield themselves from the surrounding undead by pleading pure ignorance. Characters such as the Grandmother and Richard reside in fantasies of the old world, while also ...


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...hooses to overlook the fact that Abraham tried to rape Temple and simply honor the ties of his family. And although under sinful conditions, these bonds are not corrupt. They are true and powerful. The names Abraham and Moses are blatant allusions to the figures of the Old Testament. In the Bible, these two men plant the seeds of civilization. And in a sense, Moses and Abraham are doing the same. Every family in the novel is. The world did not end. Temple comments on this progress saying, “As long as you’re movin, it don’t matter much where you’re goin or what’s chasin you. That’s why they call it progress. It keeps goin of its own accord” (85). The fate of the world is in the hands of the people who remain. Strengthened by the resilient bonds between who is left, the American family becomes the singular hope for progress to continue amongst the surrounding chaos.

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