Essay on The Role of Parenting in Henry Roth’s Call it Sleep

Essay on The Role of Parenting in Henry Roth’s Call it Sleep

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The Role of Parenting in Henry Roth’s Call it Sleep


In the novel Call it Sleep, by Henry Roth, one of the hardest tasks is
to truly understand the character of David Schearl. Written from the
perspective of a young child, the reader has to wade through rambling
streams of consciousness filled with significant meaning, as well as,
well-developed mature thoughts. However, you cannot truly comprehend a
character like David unless you fully understand his familial
structure and the effects it has on him. David's parents are important
because they prove to be the source of his rejection and confusion
with the world around him. By rejecting his parents and their culture
David is only left with confusion, guilt, and loneliness. The Schearl
household is filled with secrets, blame and denial that shake the
basic foundations that a family depends on. David's home is lacking
openness and intimacy, and that forces David to look towards other
places, such as religion, for such needs. Upon examining the effects
the family's dysfunctions have on David; one can better understand the
true nature of his character and his search for a personal identity
independent of his parents.

David's relationship to his mother, Genya, is filled with love.
However, as David gets older this love is sometimes replaced by shame.
David, who formally took comfort in being near his mother, is trying
to free himself from only feeling safe in her arms. At the beginning
of the novel, David needed his mother to wait in the stairwell while
he came up stairs because he was so terrified. While later in the
novel, David is proud of himself for walking up the stairs and not
being afraid of anything. However, there were times during this period
wh...


... middle of paper ...


...dependent of his parents,
becomes clear upon examining the relationship he has with his parents.
The Schearl's dysfunctional household has a long term and lasting
impact on David. The way David approaches life and the different
situations he is faced with is a direct result of his rejecting his
mother and father's culture and their refusal to assimilate to the
modern American culture that David is growing up in. David wants to
fit in and feel accepted. He doesn't find this at home and he is
forced to search outside of the home, unfortunately this too is
unsuccessful. David's independence and strength to look outside the
home for happiness is a result of his inability to connect with his
parents on an emotional and meaningful level. The true nature of
David's character is truly made clear when the effects that his
familial structure has on him is examined.

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