My Brilliant Friend
Stigma of Dependence: Character Analysis in Three Recent Novels College
In recent years, the age of maturity in Western cultures has been pushed higher and higher as more education becomes necessary to pursue job opportunities. Crashing economies increasingly force children to rely on their parents after graduation. Despite the practical necessity of taking a few more years to set out entirely on their own, the current generation entering the workforce is criticized for just how long they take to support themselves. This stigma is rooted more deeply in our self-centered culture, and the allure of individual success. To be independent is to be admirable, to be capable of taking care of oneself. Dependency is looked down upon almost universally— even while romantic relationships are encouraged, individuals are still expected to have clear goals and identity outside of their partner. These social patterns are reflected in modern literature. In Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life and Elena Ferrante’s The Days of Abandonment and My Brilliant Friend, protagonists struggle to balance the desire to be independent and self reliant with the fulfillment that relationships can provide. For each, dependance on another becomes a struggle to maintain boundaries and to behave as they’ve grown used to.
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