Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Parents and Daughters: Hosseini, Picoult, Mah

The next in our series of Transition Year Extended Essays from last term is by Claire Conway. She compares three books which deal with the relationships between parents and daughters in three different cultures.

Claire writes:

When we were first asked what topic we were keen to write about in our extended essays, various themes flew through my mind. But one in particular struck me most: how women are treated in the Middle East. I’ve read several books about this conflict, as women’s rights have interested me my whole life. As I thought about it closer, I decided to specify my choice more. As I myself am a girl, I thought it would be very interesting to write about the relationships between parents and their daughters in different societies. When you think about it, you realize that even in our modern society, boys and girls aren’t exactly and fully equal. For example, I have noticed that in most books I have read so far the main characters tended to be male (Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas to name but a few). A girl reads books about male characters with great pleasure, but I doubt it is the other way round.

Aware of this, I specifically searched for books in which girls played the main parts. Finally, I decided that I would simply combine my interests and write about daughters, young girls and how their lives and relationships with their parents are affected by the cultures they live in. To create a bigger variety of what I could write about and compare, I decided to choose three books each set in a different country, culture and time. To my astonishment and delight, I discovered three perfect matches:
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah and My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. These are set in Afghanistan, China and the US, respectively, three totally different cultures during different time periods. Not only are these books perfect for my choice of theme but the first two are set during periods of major political and social changes in each country. I was glad to know that I would be learning a lot of history by reading these books.

When I got started, I soon realized how much I could interpret and conclude from my choice of books. I find it fascinating how a culture has its own rules and traditions and to be short how people are bound to act and behave towards each other according to that culture. It is easy to understand how a culture can have a huge impact on the upbringing of a child and in my case how this culture can affect the development of girls and their relationships with their parents.

Read Claire's full and impressive essay here.

No comments: