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John Irving’s stories “A Widow for One Year” and “The Cider House Rules” are similar in a number of ways. These major similarities are evident through the characters of Homer Wells and Ruth Cole.
Despite the stories having differences in terms of setting, the plots and other aspects, the characters of Homer Wells and Ruth Cole are modeled by the author in such a way that they make the stories bear similarities that can never be overlooked.
The protagonists, Homer Wells and Ruth Cole from ‘’Cider House Rules’ and ‘A Widow for One Year’ respectively stand out as faultless, unwanted children, misunderstood by others, and having suffered rejection in their childhood based on abandonment by their parents.
They are both abandoned children
The “Cider House Rules” portrays Homer Wells, the protagonist, as one of the children who find themselves in an orphanage following the abandonment by their parents. As a young man, Homer Wells is compelled to live in the St. Clouds orphanage when he experiences different treatments from different foster families. He actually suffers from depression after undergoing a tough treatment in the third family that has adopted him.
Ruth Cole in “A Widow for one Year” also undergoes rejection as a child whereby her mother Marion seems so much occupied with mourning her dead sons to recognize the presence of her young daughter. Marion says, “If I let myself love Ruth…what will I do if something happens to her” (Irving, ‘A Widow for one Year’ 68).
She further lacks attention from her parents when they separate at the age of four. Being born because of the urge to replace the lost sons, Ruth does not receive proper attention from her parents and as a result, depression sets in following the treatment she receives.
The circumstances of their birth are similar- unwanted
The two characters are similar in that they are unwanted children who are forced to live with stigma because of the consequences that led to their prospective births. For instance, Homer Wells is as a result of the exploitation of women in St. Clouds and her would be parents could not take the responsibility of bringing him up.
He seems therefore left in the mercies of well-wishers, who adopt him majority of whom mistreat him in the process. He lives a life without knowing what people really expect out of him although he tries his best to impress his foster parents and be of use to them. He lives with the pain of knowing that his parents could not take the responsibility and that he was different from other children.
This is evident where at the Drapers an elderly boy wanted to bugger him and instead it was him who was accused of the offence considering that he was only ten years old (Irving, ‘Cinder House Rules’ 50). Ruth Cole on the other hand is born out of the urge to replace the two elder brothers who died in a fatal motor accident.
She therefore however living with her real parents fails to get the attention that a child would require to lead a full life. She witnesses things that she cannot stand at her age. When “she’d been sick with the stomach flu, her father had encouraged her to vomit in a towel” (Irving, ‘A Widow for on year’ 45).
For instance, she realizes that despite always occupied with grief over her dead sons, her mother was having an affair with the family aide Eddie. She leads an unstable childhood just like Homer wells but eventually makes it in life.
Others misunderstand the two
The two characters seem focused and try to be of use to the people around them as well as their surroundings. For instance, as a child Homer wells wants to be of use to the families that has adopted him only for it to expose him to mistreatment and misunderstanding. For instance, the first family that adopts him ends up returning him just because he is too quiet and calm.
This according to Homer is the thing that most parents would require of their children. “The second family ends up turning him into the worst screamer of the town after they were fed up with his silence and decided to force him into crying” (Irving , ‘Cinder House Rules’ 68). When he turns into crying every time, they end up returning him to St. Clouds.
Despite his urge to be of use to the families that adopt him, Homer Wells grows up confused as to what to do in order to be of use to the people around him. Ruth Cole also despite having a clear focus in life meets many huddles that prove difficult to overcome for a child her age. She overcomes the challenges and excels in life.
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The two are without fault
As portrayed by Irving in the two separate stories, the two characters are without fault, which makes the readers and their fans often sympathize with them and adore their characters. Because of constantly being victims of circumstances in their lives, the two characters are not exposed roundly in that they are not viewed to posses any negative traits.
Homer is innocent and suffers at the hands of the people who ought to take care of him as a child. He suffers because of misunderstandings that exist between him and his foster parents.
Ruth is also portrayed as perfect in that she is described as “beautiful, funny, and athletic and bears no negativity despite the rough childhood that she went through” (Irving, ‘A Widow for one Year’ 230). Therefore, based on the expositions of the paper, the protagonists of the masterworks seem similar based on the various parameters afore-discussed.
Irving, John. A Widow for One Year. New York: Random House, 1998. Print.
Irving, John. The Cider House Rules. New York: Random House, 1985. Print.