Some Things Never Change

         Family values are often said to be a thing of the past. They are something people used to have a long time ago, but we seem to have lost them somewhere along the way. When I think about all of the pieces of literature we have read and all of the films we watched in this class, not a single work is an example of good family values. In fact, every family we encountered is dysfunctional in some way. Most of these works were written more than a century ago, which proves that society has had problems with family values for a long time, and our recent problems with the issue are the result of a continuous pattern rather than some new development. The best example of a family that lacks values is the Kowalski family in Tennessee Williams' 1947 play, A Streetcar Named Desire, filmed in 1951 by Elia Kazan.

         Stanley (Marlon Brando) and Stella (Kim Hunter) do not have a home based on family values. Although Stanley and Stella seem to have had a steamy love life before Blanche (Vivien Leigh) arrives to visit, it does not seem possible that they had much more to their relationship than that. When Blanche arrives, she puts a damper on their "lovin'," and that is why their relationship crumbles. Stanley and Stella have a marriage based on sex instead of love and respect; so when that is taken away because of lack of privacy, the foundation of their marriage is ripped out from under them.

         Stanley likes to drink and gamble, two qualities that, when excessive, are not exactly desirable in a husband or father figure. Stanley also hits his pregnant wife after a night of drinking. Abuse like this is not generally something that happens only once. Most abusers do not stop abusing after the first time, which leads one to believe that Stanley had probably hit many times before and will continue to do so. An abusive home is no place to bring up children, where they grow accustomed to behavior like this and follow the same negative patterns as their parents.

         Stanley is the perfect example of the husband from hell because he is abusive to his wife as well as his sister-in-law. Rape is a brutal thing to do to someone; and the fact that Stanley is able to rape a woman, especially his wife's sister, says a lot about his moral character. The home that Stanley and Stella have created is unfit for a child. Seeing the kinds of behaviors their child would be subjected to should be enough to make Stella realize her child will be better off without a father than to have a no-good excuse of a man to raise him.

         The Kowalski family has major issues in the family values department. It is very unfortunate that people like this are able to reproduce because homes in similar situations produce children who grow up to be criminals and repeat the patterns of their parents. Family values have never been any better than they are now because today's society had to learn it from somewhere.

April Hamlin

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