In Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, the first line of Chapter one, informs the readers, ‘Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its way’. The wisdom rings true with the thematic structure of some of the films made around the world. As the plot points of these films unravel we discover that younger members of the family are parented by the negligent, the unmotivated, the violent, and the alcoholic, or unparented by deadbeat or mentally ill parents. And what they need to sort out are primarily the bad habits of mind and conduct that they fear inheriting from their parents.
Thus, while the family crises typically involve economic hardship, the narration remains acutely focused on family dynamics, excluding any consideration of how the economic landscape in which the family is situated may have caused or heightened the hardship. All trouble appears to arise from the murk of family dysfunction. Because these memoirs close their boundaries around isolated families, the judgment seems clear: these families have no one to blame for their problems but themselves. No matter what level of dysfunction the family display but when they’re all cooped up together, there is a comfort to be found in the fact that there is always another clan that is more of a mess than theirs, and such presumption seems like the only hope for happiness left for the family members.
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