The theme of family in literature and in popular discourse occurs at times when the family as an institution is under attack. Attacks against the family coupled with defence of the family are viewed as the barometer of people’s satisfaction with the society in which they live. This outpouring of emotion, whether it is in defence of or attacking the family, is the result of the family’s position on the bridge between nature and society – a fortunate (or a detrimental) link between an individual and the units that make up a society. Across the United States and much of the western world, the battle for gay marriage and inclusive civil unions has revealed the fissures in our collective moral view of the family. The conservative concern about the absence of ‘family values’ is magnified by our situation in a world of flux. Inflation, war, terrorist threats, and the depletion of natural resources are but a few examples. When so much is unknown, how do we position ourselves? What anchors us to the past, gives us comfort in the present, and supports us in the future if not the family? Alternatively, what coddles us more in the past, shackles us more to the present, and lulls us more into a fixed conception of the future than the family? My research is not a sociological survey into the family nor does it stake any claims to understanding the present state of the family in society. The study seeks, however, to shed light on the rhetorical uses of the family by analysing two novels that are inextricably concerned with the theory of the family in times of heightened social change. In particular, my research focuses upon the social role and political meaning of the family in Anna Karenina and Jia.
D'Sousa, Adil, "The Family Novel in the Emerging Nation-State: A Comparative Study of Ba Jin’s Jia and Lev Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina" (2006). Undergraduate Research Symposium (UGRS). 14.