Family Values: A Learned Lesson

Family Values consist of positive qualities, and negative qualities from which come values. Parents teach values so that their children will live within limits of conscience.


Understanding the difference between right and wrong, and living by the Golden Rule is very important in living well in society. Family values are the Golden Rule of society that children must follow as learned from their parents. They are punished when they deviate from the rules of the family. By following these rules, the children will mature faster and become more successful, and satisfied with their own lives.

Adolescents experience peer pressure and going through a state of rebellion, during which time, they will develop their own code of right and wrong. By doing right by their own consciences, children expect to better themselves.

Either children who grow within society will acquire skills to be the hero, or the lack of social skills may lead them toward a life of villainy. The difference between those who conform to make this world a better environment and those who seek to destroy it, is conscience.

“The Use of Force” by William Carlos Williams, shows the dysfunctional values of this family. The mother is compassionate but lacks the perseverance of tough love “If you don’t do what the doctor says you’ll have to go to the hospital” (Williams, 1608). Despite a cursory effort by the family, as the father tells the doctor, “My wife has given her things, you know, like people do but it don’t do no good” (Williams, 1608).

Knowing of diphtheria in the community, the parents are, however, unable to get their daughter to cooperate by opening her mouth for an examination. Because the child’s temperament rules the home, “Both parents answer (the doctor) together, ‘No. . . no, she says her throat don’t hurt her” (Williams, 1608). The parents cop out in their efforts as dutiful parents. The daughter’s behavior is tyrannical. Directions are not enforced. The doctor, an outside member of their society, takes the responsibility as a parental authority figure.

With the father’s assistance in restraining the hysterical but obviously ill youth, the doctor must use physical force because reasoning does no good. “We’re going to look at your throat. You’re old enough to understand what I’m saying” (Williams, 1608).

I believe that Mathilda Olsen’s maturity will be fraught with rebellious behavior because this is what she has learned from her family. She will not fit into society in a positive way because she cannot comprehend her entire needs. Her parents have not been able to teach her this. Perhaps this visit from the doctor will save her from her own will.

With more positive authority figures, like the doctor, Mathilda may be able to learn to make better decisions. Despite the values in her family, Mathilda may learn from her willfulness and grow past the family’s dysfunctional environment. Her conscience will be intact if she can learn from this encounter.

The narrator in John Updike’s “A & P”, is nineteen, and seems to have had a more nurturing environment. Sammy, clerk at the A & P, faces a personal conflict of conscience when overcome by the sexual aura of the young girls who come in to the store. Rather than the usual flock of shoppers, these lambs tempt his senses.

“Queenie put down the jar and. . . now her hands are empty, not a ring, or bracelet, bare as God made them, and I wonder where the money’s coming from. . . she lifts a folded dollar bill out of the hollow of her nubbed pink top. . . Really, I thought that was so cute” (Updike, 1547). She is very flirtatious, and dressed in a bathing suit. His values are overwhelmed by her presence. He is conflicted about the manager’s reproach. Lengel says, “We want you dressed when you come in here. . . it’s our policy’ (Updike, 1547).

I believe Sammy’s instincts told him to pursue the girls. By doing so he felt quitting his job was necessary. His mental aggression overrides his conscience, giving him authority. His job has now become more than just a routine. The manager’s actions seemed like a personal vendetta, putting Sammy outside his own comfortable values.

The narrator has strong desires for these lambs, putting him in a quandary. He jeopardizes his position at A & P, quitting his job, and leaving the “Kingpin face” behind. You’ll feel this for the rest of your life, Lengel says, and I know that’s true too. . . ‘ (Updike, 1548).

His conscience went out the window because his values evolved. Sammy will grow personally, in some way, despite being unemployed from this particular situation, at this particular job, this particular day at the A & P. His family’s values have helped him to make an adult decision, even if it’s not the best choice.

In “The Use of Force” and “A & P” the lessons regard personal values and one’s place in society. Mathilda will not survive without the doctor’s authority, strength, and assistance. Sammy, on the other hand, has developed a strength of moral character, a conscience, so that he will continue to act on his own beliefs. Honesty, tolerance, obedience and compassion are an integral part of family values. The development of such qualities in an individual, with the help of family and peers, should be the norm to be able to function successfully.


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