Early in the novel we are told that Harriet and David meet at a business party and they quickly realize they are ideally suited for each other. They soon marry and settle into a beautiful suburban home. They are also quick to begin their family, having first a son, then two daughters, and another son. Their large country home becomes the center of family gatherings and parties, which Harriet particularly enjoys. She is worn out from her four young chi...
... middle of paper ...
...normal and pathological.
While it is clear from a psychoanalytic standpoint that Ben’s condition is a result of his parent’s lack of love and nurturing, it is also important to look at what caused Harriet and David to treat Ben this way. In trying to form a perfectly happy life, they failed to account for things that were out of their control. They initially blamed the close ages of their children and Ben’s disposition, but it seems that their resentment of Ben came from a deeper resentment of their own unfulfilled dreams of perfection. As their lives became less perfect, indeed, increasingly chaotic and tragic, they treated Ben with less love. Harried and David, and their four other children, may have had a better chance for happiness if Harriet and David had not made such an attempt to achieve, and even force, a happiness that was absolutely perfect.
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