Seminar Paper, 2008
6 Pages, Grade: A
Research Paper: Compare-Contrast Approach
Lucy Grealy’s Autobiography of a Face and A.M. Homes The Mistress’s Daughter:
Two Powerful Women on Their Journey through Life
Lucy Grealy’s Autobiography of a Face deals with the life of Lucy Grealy, who faced the negative consequences of terminal cancer after the partial removal of her jaw. Like Lucy Grealy, A.M. Homes also faced the negative consequences as she was found by her biological mother, who put her up for adoption after her birth. Both memoirs have similar narrative structures and a lot in common in terms of content; however, they have significant differences as well.
First of all, Lucinda Grealy, whose nickname is Lucy, contracted cancer as a child, had chemotherapy and multiple surgeries, and survived from it. In her memoir, she tells the audience in great detail about the treatment she got, her family and the life she had after her recovery.
The major narrative structure in Lucy’s autobiographical writing is overcoming the monster. Although she had to overcome several monsters such as her illness and the therapy, other people’s behavior, and her lack of self-confidence, the worst monster was her disfigured face, which changed her life completely. Lucy has lived in three worlds: the hospital, her home, and her school. I believe that she felt most comfortable in the hospital due to the fact that she was not considered to be " special" because of her "ugly" face. It was considered to be an illness as other patients are sick, too.
Further, I do not believe that she liked her home because of her parents' behavior. Her mom was emotionless and did not have any sympathy for her fear. For example, Lucy cried at the doctors and her mother scolded her for doing that: "She went on to explain how disappointed she was that I'd cried even before Dr. Woolf had put the needle into me, that crying was only because of fear, that I shouldn't be afraid[...] As I made my way downstairs to my room, I resolved to never cry again" (page 78-79). She respected her mom, so she promised not to do that again. The behavior of her father was not better because he ignored her. He did not want to be confronted with her illness. Lucy seemed to be happy about his behavior because she believed that doing the opposite would make it even more difficult for him to deal with the problem: her illness. Either her mother nor her father were supportive of her. Some kids said: "That is the ugliest girl I have ever seen." (Grealy, 124-125) She seemed to be very mature because she showed sympathy with them instead of being angry about their behavior.
On the whole, Lucy Grealy seemed to be very lonely. Therefore, she told the reader about the dollhouse.
"We were taken to another floor with a playroom that boasted a large, ornate dollhouse, a real collector's item probably donated by some well-meaning person. You could only look at it from behind a glass partition, but it was too nice to be played with anyway. […] Sometimes you'd see a child standing there, staring, but for the most part the giant miniature house, despite its prominent position near the door, was ignored." (Grealy, 40)
Nobody was close to her or had the ability to be close to her due to her inability to let anybody be part of her world or the other people's inability to be relaxed next to her and become part of her world. The dollhouse was behind glass and Lucy was behind a wall, which is invisible to the human eye.
She told the reader in great detail that “For the first few weeks […] I threw up, but as tiem passed and I failed, as I saw it, to not vomit too much, I began leaving the vomit in the bowl, even when it smelled awful, and only buzzed when the large vessel was full.” (Grealy, 84) Lucy Grealy did not hide any bit of detail from the reader, even if she might felt uncomfortable in the situation, because she wanted the reader to know that the situation was difficult for her and that she would like to have some kind of support from her family or other people, who are involved in her social life.
Besides the fact that she feels lonely and it is obvious that she is depressed and an outsider of society as she says:”For some inexplicable reason, they thought I was deaf.” (Grealy, 200) Even the positive experiences, she had in her life, did not change the fact that she had already accepted her illness and the consequences of it. She informed the reader of her memoir that “[She] began to welcome the deep, lungy urge to release the sweet-tasting fluid from the deep within me.” (Grealy, 55) and the reader has realized immediately that she would not be able to overcome the monster in her life due to the fact that she is hopeless and did not believe in the idea that beauty is not based on physical appearance. Lucy was weak and not able to live under the social pressure that exists because “Beauty, as defined by society at large, seemed to be only about who was best at looking like everyone else.” (Grealy, 187) In other words, she was not able to develop her own identity because of her disfigured face, so that Lucy Grealy made also use of the narrative structure of the tragic flaw plot.
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