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Family Struggles, Conflicts, And Separation In Popular Mechanics By Raymond Carver

Family is always a vital organ in the growth and development of human beings, especially children. It usually acts as a shaper and, more generally, limits how people behave in their livelihoods. A stable family and environment are everyone’s needs and desires, and this is considered a measure of how stable a particular family is. When a favourite family experiences any form of struggle, which can result in separation, then the offspring and descendants of the aforementioned go through a hard time in trying to come to terms with the situation, especially where the condition leads to extreme cases of separation. Some of these cases are unavoidable and may lead to stress and other forms of illnesses among the victims.

In Popular Mechanics by Raymond Carver, conflict and separation are experienced throughout the plot, where the author portrays a character who packs his luggage while the wife looks on and later proceeds to argue about their own child. Although the author does not frame them as married or not, it is still evident that they are a couple and are struggling to bring the child up together.

The short story portrays the three characters as emotional, and the two adults act as if they are at their culmination and fed up with all the happenings. The woman is captured saying, “I’m glad you’re leaving. I’m glad you’re leaving. Do you hear?” (Carver). This portrays how stereotypical and emotional she is in the story. She does not care about what will happen and how their child will end up being. The man, on the other hand, does not acknowledge her. This results in all sorts of conflict that build up. This character of not acknowledging the issues purported by the woman is the one that leads to the argument reaching its climax, and as a result, the man decides to pack his belongings and leave. The scene seems to be an obvious one, and the man knows that replying to the raised woes won’t make any difference in the relationship.

This event displays the actual happenings that often lead to separation in families and most relationships. The author displays the two characters as emotional and egocentric to the point that the man does not really listen to the woes of his partner. He acts as if he is fed up with the whole scenario and the dramatic issues that keep building up. The issue that he is the one stuffing his belongings indicates that he was the one who decided to bring up the issue about a break-up: “He was in the bedroom pushing clothes into a suitcase when she came to the door.” The case handling reveals that the issue presented was not the first one and that the couple lacked skills in proper reconciliation. Their selfishness does not allow them to think of how their child will grow up or even who will end up with the child in the end.

There is a reason that leads to this separation, which the author does not clearly describe. Separation in marriages and relationships may occur due to several factors, which include infidelity among the partners. This may seem to be the reason that the male partner decides to part ways with his companion. The female begins to cry, suggesting that the male partner cannot look at her directly to her face. The emotional distress, which is accompanied by her rudeness, clearly suggests that the reason behind their separation is as a result of infidelity or an act that may hurt the other partner.

As a result of the acts and the separation, the woman becomes possessive, leading to a massive conflict. The woman suggests that she is not ready for the man to take the child, even the child’s photo with him. She holds the photo tightly to the child while in the kitchen. The act results in a form of violent misunderstanding. The container that holds the flowers placed in the kitchen falls, resulting in the flowers spilling all over the floor. Then, the parents struggle to get into possession of the baby, which results in breaking its arm. The case, which would have been solved by listening to each other’s grievances, leads to a painful ending for the child, which did not play a part in their misunderstandings.

In family conflicts, children suffer the most. This is evident from the case in Popular Mechanics, where the child breaks an arm as a result of a misunderstanding on who should end up with the child after separation occurs. They are usually affected either in a direct way, like physical torture, or indirectly, where the lack of a parent affects their life understanding and any form of discrimination (Kerig). They may be faced with cases of destructive marriages that lead to depression, low self-esteem, and inadequate parental guidance, which in turn could lead to aggression and conflict menaces. The child may suffer from low academic performance, and their social adjustments may be limited. Critical cases may also lead to them suffering from mental health.

It is clear that conflicts in relationships are inevitable. How we control and act up them is what matters. Conflicts lead to separation, and to avoid this, the parties involved need to understand the problem, design better ways to curb the problem, and later ensure that there is reconciliation that will favour the family as a whole. Conflicts and struggles in relationships should be considered dynamic processes which require individual awareness and measuring the effective states and behavioural impact that will affect the outcome positively. For example, confrontations in marriages should not be followed by people packing their belongings and deciding to part ways, as seen in Popular Mechanics. The individuals should decide to create a form of agreement where the problem will be solved and change the whole situation. Also, effective communication is a great way of resolving conflicts. As seen in Popular Mechanics, the mother of the child is extremely angry and does not control the words that she uses on her husband. This leads to him packing his belongings and later fighting for the child, which results in brutal damage to the child’s arm.

Conflicts do not always lead to separation. How we handle the conflicts determines how they will end. Successful relationships also have conflicting situations. All that matters is how we solve the upcoming situations and how ready we get for them. With this, cases that affect the children are curbed and relationships maintained.

Work Cited

Carver, Raymond. “Popular Mechanics.” SHAPARD, Robert; THOMAS, James. Sudden Fiction: American Short-Short Stories. Salt Lake City: Gibbs Smith Publisher, 1986, pp. 68–69.

Gottman, John, et al. Why Marriages Succeed or Fail: And How You Can Make Yours Last. Simon and Schuster, 1995.

Kerig, Patricia K. “Assessing the Links between Interparental Conflict and Child Adjustment: The Conflicts and Problem-Solving Scales.” Journal of Family Psychology, vol. 10, no. 4, 1996, p. 454.

Lloyd, Sally A. “Conflict Types and Strategies in Violent Marriages.” Journal of Family Violence, vol. 5, no. 4, 1990, pp. 269–284.



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