Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Karen Russell - "St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves"

This story shows that the separation of children from their parents can alter not only the crucial relationships with their siblings but also their feelings toward heritage and homeland.
"Our mothers and fathers were werewolves...We would go to St. Lucy's to study a better culture.  We didn't know at the time that our parents were sending us away for good.  Neither did they." (Russell 146) 
"The pack hated Jeanette.  She was the most successful of us, the one furthest removed from her origins." (148)
The stages of "culture shock" displayed within this story can also be referred to stages of assimilation.  These werewolf girls are being taught to accept and embrace a higher culture and, thus, end up rejecting their heritage:
"Stage 3: It is common that students who start living in  a new and different culture come to a point where they reject the host culture and withdraw into themselves.  During this period, they make generalizations about the host culture and wonder how people can live like they do.  Your students may feel that their own culture's lifestyle and customs are far superior to those of the host country." (149)
Claudette, the narrator, began to demonstrate these feelings toward her youngest and least adapted sister:
"I could have warned her.  If we were back home, and Mirabella had come under attack by territorial beavers or snow-blind bears, I would have warned her.  But the truth is that by Stage 3 I wanted her gone." (149)
As Claudette returned to her werewolf family's home in the woods over a break, she began to realize that she no longer belonged to this family/culture and was thus alienated from her parents, heritage, and home:
"They stared up at me expectantly, panting in the cool gray envelope of the cave, waiting for a display of what I had learned.
"So," I said, telling my first human lie, "I'm home." (153)

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