Sociology in Under The Attic

Sociology in Under The Attic

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Sociology relates to this novel in so many different ways. The family in the story, Flowers in the Attic, written by V.C. Andrews, starts off as a family of procreation, a family established through marriage, which includes the mother (Mrs. Dollanger), the father (Mr. Dollanger), and the four children: Cathy (the oldest daughter), Chris (the second oldest son), Carrie and Corey (the young twins). A conflict begins when the father dies in a car wreck, so the mother and her four children must move in her rich parents estate because they have no money and nowhere to stay. After the father's death, the norms of the children changed. The norms of the children were to stay hidden in the basement by them selves because Mrs. Dollanger may only earn back the right to inherit her father's estate by falsifying that she has no children by her husband who was also her half-uncle. The original agreement was that they can leave the basement when their grandfather dies. The rules of the house were given by the dying grandfather that stated if Mrs. Dollanger was found to have children that she would be disinherited again.
The most important value of the family was to not have children out of sin and to not marry within the family, which was why Mrs. Dollanger was initially disinherited.
The grandmother had the highest status of the family because she ordered and punished the four grandchildren and Mrs. Dollanger. The grandmother at that point was now of authority status to the grandfather because he was sick in his dying bed. This goes against the definition of sexism, stating that men are believed to be superior to women. The oldest sister Cathy begins to encounter a role conflict within herself. She takes on the role of a sister and she also depicts a mother, because she is the one that cares for her young sister and brother. Strangely, she takes on the role as the sexual partner of her brother, Chris, because they do not yet understand that this is wrong because of their entrapment from society. Mrs. Dollanger then receives a sanction when her father dies, which is to inherit her father's estate. This was her reward for her father thinking that she hadn't had children. Her sanction at the beginning of the novel was the punishment of marrying her half uncle by her father disinheriting her.

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The sanction of Cathy was the punishment of her grandmother cutting off her long hair for bathing naked in front of her brother, Chris, and allowing him to watch. Now becoming curious about their infatuation with each other, Cathy and Chris go against the norm of incest taboo, and begin having sex.
As time passed with original agreement not being known, their mother stopped visiting them completely and their cruel grandmother began to abuse them by doing mean things to them, such as locking them in trunks, cutting off their hair, and starving them. The grandmother was also secretly poisoning them by putting arsenic on the doughnuts that she fed them, which eventually kills Corey. The children were now experiencing absolute deprivation. They had absolutely no food which resulted in drinking each others blood and eating mice found in the attic so that they will avoid death by starvation. Cathy then becomes depressed and wants to commit suicide because she is so isolated. There were many symbols in this novel that prove relation to sociology. For the children's grandmother, the doughnuts represented death since she was the only one that knew the doughnuts were poisonous. The children undergo psychological problems that caused them to create a garden in the attic, made out of construction paper. To the children, the paper garden symbolized freedom because it made them think that they were outside in a real garden. Also to the children, the grandfather's death symbolized freedom because they were told that when he died that they would be let out of the attic.
Out of primary, developmental, anticipatory, and resocialization, the children's source of socialization is primary because everything that they had knowledge of was learned on their own as a child. This is why Cathy never learned about menstruation until she experienced it. This also supports the reason why Cathy and Chris never learned that it is a sin to copulate with your siblings; they didn't have anyone to tell them it wasn't normal. All of the children complete a self-fulfilling prophecy by predicting and saying that their mother had changed and that she was not coming back to get them. The Bases of Stratification used in the novel were power, property & wealth, and prestige. Power was used because the grandmother controlled and intimidated the children into doing things that they didn't want to do. Property & wealth was used by the mother because she was the only one that would benefit from the grandfather's estate, not her children, and that is all that mattered to her. Prestige played a part with the children's mother also, because the only way she would gain respect from her father or her new husband was by denying her children.
According to Erikson's Stages of Psychosocial Development, in the stage of early adulthood, one should be facing the characteristics of Intimacy vs. Isolation. This novel serves truth to Erickson's theory because both Chris and Cathy are curious about intimacy, which lead to them engaging in sexual intercourse. Cathy also faced isolation, which is why she was in a state of depression and considered suicide. The theoretical perspective that is most commonly seen in Flowers in the Attic is conflict. The reason conflict is so closely expressed in the novel is because a powerful wealthy elite (the grandmother), controls society (the children) for her own benefit; this perfectly defines conflict perspective. Though conflict is the perspective used in the novel, the social interaction used is supportive. The two types of supportive interactions are exchange and cooperation. The exchange is between Mrs. Dollanger and the grandfather. If Mrs. Dollanger gives the grandfather her word that she did not have any children, then he will give her his estate in return. This interaction also supports the fact Homan's theory that states: you only have relationships if you can get something out of it, because the only reason Mrs. Dollanger wanted to establish a relationship with her father was so that she would receive his estate when he dies.
The cooperation is between the children and their mother. If they cooperate with her by quietly staying in the attic, they will help her get her father's estate. This is a directed cooperation, because the children were demanded to stay in the attic or they would be beaten and punished. Inequality is enforced through education, because the children have lost the privilege to go to school and learn. A ironic situation in this novel that dictates other events is that the grandmother claims to represent God and she makes judgment on others for sinning, yet she abuses the children and even goes as dramatic as killing her grandson, Corey. This gives Religion a functionalist perspective because society (the grandmother) was supposed to carry out the work of God, but instead the grandmother made his work negative. The family in the novel is very dysfunctional, in many ways but mostly because the children (Cathy and Chris) and Mrs. Dollanger have both practiced incest. Violence is a problem occurring within the family. The type of deviance used in the novel was hate. The grandmother hated the children because they were born out of sin and because they were the product of an incest involved sexual relationship. Braithwaite's shaming theory also associates with the grandmother's nature of deviance in this novel. Chris takes on aberrant behavior by secretly sneaking down out the attic to find out more about his mother. He finds out that his mother has married another man. . He also finds out that their grandfather died over a year ago and that no one ever told them. When reading the grandfathers will, he finds out that their mother would lose everything if anyone ever found out that she has children. Following Chris's discoveries the children escape out of the house after three years and five months. The three remaining children start a new life in Sarasota, Florida.
But to conclude this paper, the novel the flowers in the attic was a book filled with many dimensions of sociology. This paper displayed various interesting aspects showing the common relationships between some of sociology's most known terms and events from this book.
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