Falling Leaves Novel Analysis Essay Sample
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Falling Leaves Novel Analysis Essay Sample
The relationship between stepmother and stepdaughter from the true story novel “Falling Leaves, Chinese Cinderella” written by Adeline Yen Mah, in todays society. The aim of this extended essay is to find out more about the relationship between stepmother and stepdaughter. The relationship between these two people is very complicated and hard to understand even in this modern world. People often stereotyping the image of stepmother as the opposite of real mother who are kind and loving.
In this paper, it will focuses on the relationship of stepmother towards her stepchildren, by analyzing the Falling Leaves novel. By understanding and analyzing the characters in the novel and the discriminations between the stepchildren and the biological off springs, could help to analyze the Cinderella effect to today’s life society.
The causes of this are due to people’s influences to the familiar fairy tales like Cinderella or Snow White, where fantasies are there and people can live happily ever after. Fairy tales are one of the ways that can restart people’s mindset.
I would like to say really big thanks for my supervisor, Ms Cindy Kushwara, for her assistance for completing my Extended Essay (EE). Without her assistance, I could not finish this essay on time smoothly. Thank you again for checking the errors that I made while witting this essay, that I can revise this essay again. On the other hand, I would also like to say thank you to Ms. Desia and the rest of the librarians for being so helpful by giving me and lending me lots of valuable resources to write for my essay. Also, I would like to say thank you to the ICT crew for helping me with the IT problems and the Internet connection that I used to find out more valuable resources to write for my EE.
Table of Contents
Abstract i Acknowledgement ii Table of Contents iii Introduction 1.1 Background information 1 1.2 Research Question 2 1.3 Purpose 2 1.4 Theory
1.5.1 Cinderella Effect 3
1.5.2 Higher Level of Stress 4
2.1 Psychological Effect of Adeline 5 2.2 Relationship Between Adeline
and Her Stepmother 6 2.3 The Role and Power of Stepchild
in Todays Society 7
People were influence by the fairy tales 8
1.1 Background Information
Falling leaves (Chinese Cinderella) is a true story written by Adeline Yen Mah, the fifth daughter of the Yen family. She was born in Tianjin, China in 1937 and considered as bad luck by her family, as her mother died two weeks after giving birth to her. She had one oldest sister, who really hates her and three older brothers who always teased her, and everyone hates her except her Aunt Baba and her grandfather, Ye Ye. As a result of her mother’s death, this left her father a sad successful businessman that needed to start a new life. Her father then remarried again to a beautiful Eurasian girl (French-Chinese), whom she and her siblings called her, Niang (Chinese term of mother). From the marriage, her father and Niang had two children, Franklin (whom Niang love) and Susan (whom Niang did not love). Everyone in her family (except her father and Franklin) suffered emotionally and physically to live under their cruel and wicked Niang. But, it is always Adeline who suffered the most than the others. This is because Adeline ever stopped Niang from beating her half sister, Susan.
In order to make her father to be proud of her, she works really hard in school, like she’s able to skipped to grades because her report is always ‘A’, and wins lot of prizes. Her fate changed when she won an international play writing competition, and at that time her father was making his way to his office when his colleague showed him the articles. She then went to England with his three brothers to study medicine as her father’s wish. After finishing her study, she then back to Hong Kong (her family migrated from China) in order to get a closer relationship with her Father and Niang. But she did not like the job recommended there by her father, and she went to United State and works there. She failed in her first marriage and remarried again with his husband, Bob and finds a true happiness. When her father died in 1988, Niang did not want to read his father’s will and said that her father had died penniless, which is impossible as he is one of the richest and the most successful businessman in Hong Kong. Niang then changed all her father’s property and businesses into her name. Two years later when Niang died, Adeline did not receive a penny from her Niang, but instead her oldest sister who was disowned by her family in 1951 received a ten percent. Adeline then searched to Niang apartment and found her Father’s will and there’s her name there. She then thinks that her father did love her after all. For her, Niang’s will doesn’t matter for her, what really matter is that her father still does love her.
This novel have shown us discrimination of how this wicked stepmother react towards her own children and her stepchild, having the fear of being kicked out of the house, humiliation from her stepmom, and even both of physical and emotional abuse from this wicked stepmother. Although Adeline has been suffering both emotionally and physically, somehow she managed to survive, without having the courage to walk out of her family. Even nowadays, there are still lots of stepchild suffers to live under her stepmother. Most of them suffered physically from the violence of the stepmother.
The relationship between stepmom and her stepchild is an interesting case to study, as the relationship between these two people are always complicated, and most of it is about jealousy that stepmom has towards her stepdaughter. Besides, most individuals have been very familiar with the Cinderella tale, as the example of the image of a wicked and cruel stepmother towards her stepdaughter. Even in United States today, domestic violence is increasing among young relationships with women aged between 14-24 being at more at risk of family violence than women from any other age group . The triggers of these issues are due to the lack of communications, misunderstandings, jealousy and how powerless the role of stepdaughter in a family.
1.2 Research Question
The relationship of stepmother and stepdaughter from the true story novel of “Falling Leaves, Chinese Cinderella” by Adeline Yen Mah compared with todays society.
The purpose of this research is to reveal the ideal relationship between stepmother and stepdaughter in today’s society. Most people are stereotyping the figure of stepmother towards their stepdaughter, like in most of the fairy tales of Cinderella, Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs or Hansel and Gratel. This research is to prove whether stepmother is really that cruel and wicked, like as told in the fairy tales.
1.4.1 Cinderella Effect
The word stepmother itself will automatically refer to the tale of Cinderella or Snow White. For many years, people do believe and stereotyping the image of stepmother, as a person who likes to abuse their stepchild. According to Martin Daly and Margo Wilson from McMaster University, Canada department of psychology stated that the Cinderella effect is not a fairy tale. They both do some research and found out that stepchildren are likely to be disproportionately mistreated by their stepparents . Most parents spend lots of time with their children, paying attention, giving material source for their child’s well being, protecting them emotionally and physically and also nourishing them with the best resources.
The reason why parents love “investing” so much on their children because, they would hope that their child would become the splitting image from them, and be an adult who are proliferated and successful. Another theory stated by Daly and Wilson, parents would always be more caring towards their own genetically offspring rather than their stepchildren, as the effect of the Cinderella effect. Stepchildren would always be discriminated compared to those who are biologically the offspring of their parents. According from the psychologists Daly and Wilson, they both stated their findings that stepchildren living with a biological parent and a stepparent were seven times more likely to be abused than children living with two biological parents . They both inferred that this might be the effect of the evolutionary psychology (EP), which made human’s behavior and mind to consider the perception towards particular action that were useful in the primitive society.
1.5.3 Higher level of Stress
The second theory stated by Dr. Francesca Adler-Baeder, a psychologist from Auburn University explains that, children who are living in stepfamilies are more under pressure compared to those who are living with their biological parents. From several studies that she has reviewed before, she suggests that stepparents have more rigid parenting beliefs and styles than biological parents and tend to abuse older stepchildren . Francesca uses the method of vote counting to draw a conclusion of children living with children living with their stepparents, compared to those who are living with their biological parents. This helps her to find out more information, whether stepchildren are always the victims of the physical abuse by their stepparents. As well for the result, it proves that stepparents had more rigid parenting beliefs and parenting styles than did biological parents. Such beliefs like that are associated with greater difficulty in stepfamily adjustment and increased likelihood of negative stepparent-stepchild interactions , Which makes the relationship between the two of them are not good enough, and then it happens the physical abuse by the stepparents to their stepchildren.
* The psychological effect of Adeline
Ever since her early childhood, Adeline never feels a truly happiness from her heart. She has no choice, but to follow her dad or her stepmom’s order. She keeps on yearning for both of her parent’s attention and affection, to look up at her that she is also capable to do something and she can do something good to make them proud. She never knows her real mother, as her mother died two weeks after giving birth to her, and so she is considered as the source of bad luck from her family. Her early childhood was full of fear of being kicked out of the house, isolation and humiliation from her parent, especially her wicked stepmother.
“She came back and glared at me, ‘you are not only a thief and a liar but manipulative as well. The problem is that you have a bad blood from your mother. I don’t think you deserved to be fed and housed here.” (Page 65).
She often feels lonely and sad, as her parent feels that her presence near them made them feel annoyed. With her father who does not care at all about her, Adeline feels so powerless, as her life and her future is all in her Niang’s hand. Her father would listen to her Niang rather than listening to her, as she is the unwanted daughter for him after all. Adeline feels a lot more comfortable being in school with her friends and teacher rather than at home with her parent. Under her Niang’s regime, all stepchildren are not allowed to go out of the house accept the school hours. No friends are allowed to visit and play to her house at any time or special occasion.
“Under Niang’s regime, we children were forbidden to leave the house outside school hours.” (page 48).
When she won the class election, her classmates came by to give present and congratulate her for winning the election. She did not feel happy, but instead she feels so scared that her Niang might finds out that her friends are coming for her. She was so afraid and she can feel all the pressure that she feels of what might happen to her if her Niang found out. And yes, her Niang found out that her friends are coming from their fuss in their house. What Adeline got from her Niang was a real big slap that made her face swollen. Her Father and her Niang command her to open all the gifts that her friends bought for her, and threw them to the rubbish bin. Adeline’s early childhood was full of pressure and sadness in her mind.
“She slapped me again, this time with the back of her hand across my other cheek”. (page 69).
Sometimes, she would also fantasize of how nice it would be if she could leave behind all her fear and pressure from her wicked stepmother. She even thinks that it would be a lot nicer to be Jackie, her Father’s German shepherd dog, rather than being human, where there were no freedoms at all. Not only dreaming of being Jackie, she would also fantasize of her death mother and wished to join her mother to live with her up there.
“One day my own mother would come out of the sky to rescue me and take me to her enchanted castle.” (page 53).
From her miserable childhood that she experienced, she often has difficulties to trust people around her. Even when she graduated from university with medical degree in England, she was still afraid to talk straightly to her Niang whenever she was pointed. What she remembered about her Niang were only her physical and emotional abuse, which made her afraid to talk to Niang even when she already grew up as an adult. Her dark bitter memories about her family would always stick with her in her mind forever.
“Though I had been in England for eleven years and was now a physician, at that moment I felt no different from the schoolgirl who left in 1952.” (Page 144).
2.2 The Relationship Between Adeline and her Stepmother Adeline’s relationship with her stepmother was not good, her stepmom was so
abusive and often beat her, causes her to suffered both emotionally and physically. Initially, Adeline’s mother hates all her stepchildren, but Adeline was the one that her stepmother hated most. This is because Adeline dared to stop her wicked stepmother from beating her half sister Susan, as her sister did not want to approach her mother and could not stop crying. Niang, Adeline’s stepmother, never forgave her for standing up against her.
“Get out! She screamed. Get out of my sight at once! How dare you open your mouth! I shall never forget or forgive your insolence! Never! Never! Never!” (page 47).
Throughout Adeline’s childhood, she was the only one who were always left out behind. Unlike any other children, Adeline never been loved by her parent and never have a freedom to do what she wants. Especially when her grandmother passed away, things gotten a lot more worsen than before, as her Niang, took control over everything in the house. “The funeral marked the end of an era. We did not know it, but the carefree years of childhood were over.” (page 41).
From all of the stepchildren that her Niang have, Adeline was the one who was hated the most by her Niang. Not only she dared to stop her from beating her child, the situations continue to worsen when her friends came by to her house to congratulate her for winning the class election and also she ever lied to her so that she could attend her friend’s birthday, as it is strictly forbidden.
“When I was ten years old, two events occurred within a few days of each other which substantially worsened my relationship with Niang.” (Page 64).
Adeline always yearned for her parent’s attention and affection towards her. She wanted to please them and make them proud of her. Even when she married and lived in the United States, she often offered her parent to come by to USA for a vacation. She just wants to be needed by her parent, and they would turn to her if they need some help. When her Niang was sick, she even offered her to live together with her in her house so that she could take care of her.
“I could not believe my ears! I had offered so many times to fly over to Hong Kong to help her.” (Page 248).
2.3 The Role and Power of Stepchild in Todays Society
This book is based on true story of Adeline Yen Mah about her lonely childhood and the rest of her life of how she struggle herself yearning for her parent’s attention towards her. Even nowadays in todays society, there are lots of stepchildren suffers to live under their stepmothers. Their role and power in the families are very weak, as they are just a children coming from one of their parent. Especially if she is still in a young age, it ends up that their stepmother would abuse them.
It might be easy to say that it is worthless to hang on if you are abused emotionally and physically. For them, it is not that easy, because going away from them is a big deal, as parent is the one who would support the education and the living. It is hard to run away, and it is better to hold on and stay strong.
People nowadays were still influenced by the fairy tales, which stereotyped the image of stepmother. Until today, the word stepmother will refer to a very wicked un-biological mother comes from the second marriage of her husband. This is the effect of the Cinderella Effect due to the Evolutionary Psychology (EP). Stories like fairy tales can really give a big impact towards the people and gave the whole world same stereotyping image of something, and as the example is the stepmother. From this novel, Adeline had suffered both emotionally and physically from her stepmother, but yet she did not have the courage to walk out of her family.
The Cinderella effect are affecting lots of people and including Adeline.
The image of stepmother should always be wicked and cruel towards their stepchildren. The way Adeline’s stepmother treated her and her sibling was so unfair. The discrimination between her stepchildren and her own off springs were really cruel. The stepchildren could not order anything to the cook, and were only served congee for their breakfast. Unlike their half brother and sister, they could order anything they wanted and was served bacon, sandwiches and eggs for their breakfast.
The power that stepmother had to control the household, can lead to physical and emotional abuse like what Adeline had experienced. She had neither rights nor freedom like any other children do. The story of falling leaves is the true story of Cinderella in our real life.
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