Breath of Clarity

Mirrors and Windows- based on quotes from the novel Bread Givers

“Mother tried to squeeze the hard, stale loaf that nobody would buy for cash. ‘You’re so busy working for Heaven that I have to suffer here such bitter hell.’” -10

Early in the novel, Mother experiences a lot of frustration with the rest of the family. Even though Sara is only trying to help by preparing the potatoes, Mother gets mad at her for throwing too much of it away when peeling them. Mother feels that the family is in trouble financially and needs to conserve as much as possible, so she believes that saving every little bit is extremely important. Mother is able to get over that quickly because her husband is the true cause of her frustration. Mother finally takes up her issues with Father when he tells her to stop worrying so much. Mother bursts with anger because she believes that Father doesn’t have to deal with any of the family’s stress and that is why he does not worry enough. In her eyes, Father is too concerned with his religion to face reality and realize that he’s needed to contribute to the family’s efforts to be financially stable. Mother views him as extremely selfish. The rest of the family is working so hard for each other so that they can survive day by day, while Father spends his time setting himself up for merely his own future in afterlife and is completely unconcerned with serving his family in the present.

I’ve been able to understand Mother’s frustration in this passage because the idea that she tries to convey has had a permanent effect on my life. Humans often naturally develop a tendency to ignore the struggles that others are forced to carry as a because of a selfish decision. Individuals find ways to avoid admitting their accountability for others’ struggles by providing reasoning that is difficult for others to argue with. This can drive me to the equal point of insanity that Mother felt. My mom chose to separate from my dad in order to get out of an unhealthy relationship that they had. Through it all, she’s seemed to more or less disregard the effect that it has had on her kids. When asked about it, she immediately gets defensive and provides support for why she made the decision. The issue is that her reasoning is probably correct, but my brothers and I are more concerned with the fact that she’s made her own needs a bigger priority than the family’s unity. By carrying out the split, my mom created a better life for herself, but hurt the lives of the rest of the family. This is similar to what is occurring in the novel with Mother and Father. Father makes securing his destiny in heaven a bigger priority than his family. Mother knows that she cannot argue with the fact that nothing should come before God, but is rather concerned with the general idea that Father is putting himself before his loved ones. Mother is experiencing a lot of aggravation in trying to make her husband understand that he is choosing himself over his family because Father is set on the fact that nothing should come before God. My mom is set on the fact that she made the right decision based on her reasoning, but does not understand that this is an issue of priority instead of whether her decision was well supported. This quote demonstrates that nothing should ever come before making loved ones suffer as a result of being occupied with personal benefit. Mother and I agree that life is about making sacrifices for those you love and that should come before everything. Even though Mother never truly overcomes this problem she had with Father, she realizes that he still loves the family so much and Mother doesn’t let this get in the way of their relationship too much. I’ve come to do the same with my mom just because she’s always been very loving to me and no sort of frustration should not be immense enough to take over that love.

“Maybe if I could only live like others and look like others, they wouldn’t pick on me so much, I thought to myself. I studied myself in the mirror. I examined, one by one, the features that gazed back at me. Tired eyes. Eyes that gazed far away at nothing. A set sadness about the lips like in old maids who’d given up all hope of happiness. A gray face. A stone face. Turned to stone from not living.” -181

When Sara enters the college life, the other students definitely don’t accept her. Sara simply does not fit in, and tries to talk to several of the students, but is not warmly received. Sara describes her deep concern of not fitting in with the other students and how this negatively impacts her self-esteem. She comes to view herself the exact same disgusting way that her classmates perceive her. Sara allows the way that others treat her to determine her state of mind and ability to maintain a sense of happiness. She strives to conform to her peers so that this humiliating feeling will vanish and she can return to loving herself like she once did before she independently left her home to explore the educated and working world filled with people who have come to hurt her.

This passage is one that is very difficult for me to relate to because the fact that I’ve been very different from my peers over the years has never seemed to bother me. I’ve been disrespected by those who haven’t accepted my peculiar way of being, but saw that a compliment in a way because it showed me how unique I was. It’s always been my goal to stick out from other kids. In Sara’s case, it’s necessary for her to conform in order to feel comfortable and content with herself. When I’ve looked in the mirror and seen myself as another member of this world that will never leave an amazing legacy, I feel bad about myself. This motivates me to move away from the norm, while Sara’s experience made her want to conform. I’m often weird on purpose to test others reactions to random ways of acting, truly not caring how this will alter my image. Sara does everything in her power to give others the reason to love her. She does not realize that others will love her once she exhibits confidence around them, which will prove to them that she is one who’s worth being loved.