Criticism Of Anne Tyler The Pursuit of True Happiness Anne Tyler has said that she uses the family unit to show how people manage to endure togetherhow they grate against each other, adjust, intrude, and protect themselves from intrusions, give up, and start all over again in the morning, (Applebee et al. 1007). From this quote, a reader can assume that Tyler encourages perseverance and courage. Life all too often presents challenges, but it is how you handle those challenges that matters. Throughout many of her fictional works, characters are placed in unsettling conditions that take a toll on their lives as a whole, usually in a negative way.
These unhappy characters seek escape from familial relationships, marriages, and friendships in order to pursue a fantasy, leading to a better personal life. Quite often while reading Anne Tylers fiction, the reader is introduced to characters involved in tremulous relationships within the home. Many of the domestic interactions appear to be ridden with tumultuous and agitated feelings that fall along the brink of disaster. Once this occurs, the characters find escape from their situations in pursuit of a better personal life. One such character is Samuel Grinstead who appears in Ladder of Years. Sam comes from a very tightly reigned family where the decisions even those concerning his future, are primarily made by the parents.
It is not as if they do not have good intentions, but they feel that the goals they have set for him should be the only ones he pursues. Sams parents feel that if he attends law school, he will attain the ideal life that they have planned for him. Sam has no such intentions; instead, he goes against his parents original intent and applies to medical school. He thus leaves home, and upon finishing school moves to Roland Park where he joins a family practice. It is there that he meets his wife, Delia, and raises his family. Sam finds contentment in his decisions and does fulfill his dreams of success, but he does so on his own.
He rebelled against his controlling parents because he had aspirations of his own; he had dreams that did not coincide with his parents, yet he did not let that hold him back. The end result is a life with no regrets and full of much happiness. Another character that feels restrained by his parents is Donny, who appears in the short story Teenage Wasteland. Donny feels restricted by his parents when it comes to his scholastic work. He often feels that they come down on him too hard and expect too much from him. When he is referred to a tutor due to poor grades he receives in school, the response seems to be a positive one.
The tutor, Cal, provides a relatively restriction-free environment that appears to be like a club, but in due course does not benefit Donny in the least (Wasteland 1003). Even while with Cal, Donny struggles with school until ultimately he is expelled. A confrontation occurs with his parents, which results in his departure from home. Donny is never heard from again, and it can be presumed that he attains the life of freedom that he longed for. While running away from ones problems is not ever the best thing to do, for Donny it was his only option. Since he found no happiness from within his family nor from anything else in his town, he sought escape in order to attain a better life on his own.
Yet another instance of a characters escape from a family situation is seen within Your Place Is Empty. Hassan Ardaui finds that living with his family in his native country of Iran is too consistent as well as conventional. He abandons his family along with his traditional Islamic beliefs that entail his remaining at home and raising his family alongside his mother and father, just as they had done before him. Hassan chooses instead to follow his own aspirations. He immigrates to America where he pursues a career as a doctor in a very prestigious hospital.
Hassan, upon arriving in America, meets and falls in love with Elizabeth. They marry and move into the suburbs where they begin raising their own family. He accomplishes his dream of an escape from Iran and his family. While he loves them, he always knew that his place was not there. The restrictions of his faith, which were reinforced by his family, did not go along with the decisions he wanted to make for himself. He sought after and attained the life he had always longed for, a task accomplished by few.
Within the same story is yet another example of this particular kind of escape for the pursuit of a better personal life. Hassans mother, Mrs. Ardaui, is constantly looking to break away from one family member to another in an attempt to find some sort of happiness where she resides. Following conflicts with her other son, Babak, and his wife, Mrs. Ardaui first leaves Iran to join her son, Hassan.
I could tell that living with them wasnt going to work, Mrs. Ardaui states, she just didnt seem to follow the directions I would give her in raising their children(Empty 954). Once she takes up residence with Hassan, however, she immediately makes plans to return to Iran to live with her sisters and Babak. The new world in America and the traditional ways of Mrs. Ardaui conflicted too much for her to live there. She found it very difficult to step aside and be an observer as her daughter-in-law, Elizabeth, raised her family. Traditionally, the grandparents play a dominant role in the upbringing of the children, but that is in Iran not America as Mrs. Ardaui would soon find out.
While she thought her happiness would be in the land of the free away from Babak and her other family, the escape would just prove to come full circle until it resulted in her escaping back to the place from which she first fled. When Mrs.Ardaui found herself unhappy in her living arrangements, she was determined to escape and seek solace in a better place to ensure her own contentment. Similarly, in Average Waves in Unprotected Waters the reader learns that Bet Blevins sought an escape of her own. Intent on avoiding her parents and in search of love, which could not be found at home, Bet marries Avery against their wishes. I just wanted to start over, I felt I was ready to live my life and raise a family.
All of my happiness was found with Avery, says Bet (Waves 927). Once the couple has a son who is physically handicapped, Avery begins to grow increasingly anxious in the situation until he finally just abandons them altogether. Bet, now alone with a disabled son, must seek another escape. When the care for her son becomes too much for her, she chooses to transfer him to a facility more equipped to handle his needs. Now she is able to start again, The world was now going to do something as if on a stage that she would sit back and observe, (931).
This is another sound example of an Anne Tyler character who after facing distress in her family life, searches for a better life. A final example of a character exhibiting a distressful family life is Ben Hawkes in If Morning Ever Comes. Ben seeks an escape from his primarily female family–his mother, grandmother, and three sisters. As the story opens, the reader becomes aware of the difficulty Ben is experiencing in a house full of women. Im tired of all this, Im called on only when the toilet is broken or when a mouse is spotted! (Morning 47). Ben finally leaves home to pursue a law career. With this decision he hopes to find the successful life he has always wanted for himself.
He ventures off to obtain his independence. Once again a distressed character pursues an escape to better his own personal life. It is not just characters in strained family situations that seek escape; there are many inst …