A Right to Your Own Happiness?

A Right to Your Own Happiness?

“It has taken me a very long time, Mother and Dad, to appreciate that you’ve got a proper to your individual happiness. It is egocentric for me to ask that you simply reside any extra for me. You did that for years.” So writes Betsy Williams in her farewell letter to her dad and mom earlier than making an attempt suicide. Betsy is the protagonist of the brief story “Natural Causes”, written by Catholic Hollywood author and producer Myles Connolly. Painting an image of a Fifties divorce from the viewpoint of the couple’s daughter, Connolly’s informal writing can wring the guts.

Like different brief tales within the assortment The Reason for Anne, Connolly is attempting to shine the sunshine of Catholicism upon the quagmire of modernity by narrative moderately than discursive argument. Thus his characters wrestle with points like atheism, divorce, gang crime, and communism. The six tales on this assortment take care of heavy and poignant matters however in a surprisingly mild—even fluffy—manner. As with other Catholic writers of the 1950’s who have been attempting to be fashionable and up-to-date in their very own day, a few of Condolly’s tropes can sound trite or cliched to us.

Yet “Natural Causes’’ presents insights that outweigh no matter dated mud clings to its edges. As a portrayal of divorce’s destruction of safety and belief within the coronary heart of youngsters this can be very efficient. “Connolly’s principal purpose within the story,” writes Stephen Mirarchi within the Introduction to The Reason for Anne, “is to dramatize the breakdown of the household within the face of the deadliest temptation for individuals of fine will: acedia, or religious sloth—right here, particularly, the pursuit of lesser items on the expense of the larger ones.”

Connolly portrays the wedding of the Williams as initially very loving and shut. When Betsy walks by the empty household home earlier than making an attempt suicide, she

Stopped on the door of the massive bed room, regarded in, her eyes shifting about with the identical sluggish depth that they had had in the lounge. They rested on the nice four-poster mattress with its white, frilled cover. There she had been conceived, there she had been born. Her father had insisted the supply be at house. No chilly, metallic hospital for his spouse. Not even a single evening’s separation for him and his love.

Betsy remembers how pleased with her her dad and mom have been of her completely different accomplishments. Yet their affection cooled and so they turned offended on the manner they each have been giving consideration to different actions—sarcastically, it was Betsy’s mom spending an excessive amount of time on the “Children’s Hospital Drive” that may provoke the coldness between her and her husband.

When Betsy’s dad and mom separate and every start a “new life” with a brand new accomplice, their reassurances of parental love fell on Betsy’s ears with a hole ring. She writes in her farewell letter:

When I used to be divided up between you, so many days to be spent with one, so many days with the opposite, this week-end right here, this week-end there, I felt as if I’d been divided up with the shares and bonds and the true property. I felt like one other piece of furnishings and never like a daughter who had been led to assume she was the apple of your eye. And while you’d maintain telling me to not be sad, I’d all the time have a house, I knew I’d by no means have a house once more and by no means had.

What makes a house is a united father and mom, Connolly suggests by this younger lady. Throughout the story the motif of the phone ringing reoccurs. Betsy remembers how on Christmas Eve her father and mom would spend time collectively and by no means reply the phone, refusing to permit it to disturb their familial communion. “For Connolly, the intrusion of know-how is symptomatic of acedia, for it calls for that we regularly take note of lesser items moderately than our vocational duties,” Mirarchi feedback within the e-book’s Introduction. I personally have written of this recently on Crisis.

Seventeen-year-old Betsy writes that she was “sufficiently old even a 12 months in the past to know that cash and meals and beds and tv units don’t make a house. I knew that father and moms, and love and family members made a house.” This is a paradoxical failure of the familial reflection of glory which Marc Barnes recently discussed so nicely, writing that “The mother or father’s glory isn’t within the mother or father, however within the little one, however the little one’s glory isn’t within the little one, however within the mother or father!” Parents can actually obtain glory from their youngsters, however not in a egocentric manner—not even very a lot on this life (I extremely advocate studying Barnes’s article).

Ultimately, Betsy appears to assume that she was not actually cherished however was a part of her dad and mom’ “marriage profession.” She was a “parental achievement,” “merely the factor to do, the modern factor to do.” Thus her dad and mom’ love for her appears not a lot loving her as loving themselves. Yet Betsy’s grandmother holds out hope that in the future her dad and mom will “return to themselves.” Her grandmother tells her that “The later years are all the time happiest for nicely married {couples}, for the final is all the time the very best.” Yet Betsy begins taking fashionable sociology programs at school and learns that there are numerous different conceptions of the household and that actually, she ought to be OK together with her dad and mom’ separation. That could be the “fashionable, clever factor to do”. But deep down, Betsy is aware of that is mistaken and that irrespective of how she tried, she may by no means turn out to be “fashionable and complicated.”

Ultimately, Betsy tells her dad and mom that she is committing suicide as a result of she has been “loving an excessive amount of.” Dying from love is a “Natural Cause” she explains. Betsy’s heartbreak isn’t for nothing, nonetheless. Healing comes regardless of the damage: and to seek out out precisely how, you’ll have to learn the e-book your self!



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