Family always get in the way
What attracted Romeo and Juliet and also become the reason for their demise? They were polar opposites and their family got in the way. And in the same fashion like Romeo and Juliet the novel Eleanor and Park, both their families could not be more polar opposites. Eleanor comes from a poor dysfunctional family and lives in constant fear due to her abusive stepfather Richie. And in contrast is Park’s perfect middle-class family, who has the support of his both loving parents Mindy and Jamie. Eleanor and Park’s love intensifies and brings them closer when Park’s family welcomes and accept Eleanor into their family. Ultimately it is Eleanor’s family issues that break both Eleanor and Park apart.
One of the struggles Eleanor faced was not receiving the attention and support of her parents. This made it difficult for Eleanor to trust and count on someone during her difficult times. In a conversation between Eleanor and Ben “It was finally Jacket weather. Eleanor wished she had a jacket. ” “What are you supposed to do when it gets too cold to play outside?” She asked Ben. He was taking Matchbox cars out of his pockets and lining them up in the dirt. “Last year,” he said, “Dad made us go to bed at seven thirty.” “God. You, Too? Why do you guys call him that?” She tried not to sound angry. Ben Shrugged. “I guess because he’s married to Mom.” Yeah, but-” Eleanor ran her hand up and down the swing chains, then smelled them.”-we never used to call him that. Do you feel like he’s your dad?” I don’t know,” ben said flatly. “What’s that supposed to feel like?’ She Didn’t answer him,..” Rowell 35 Unfortunately Eleanor and her brothers grew up without the support of their biological father. Eleanor siblings understand that perhaps Richie would not be considered the ideal father figure. But since they have never experienced what it’s like having a father and since they have no other choice, by default they have to consider Richie the closest thing to having a father figure. Richie is the main source of Eleanor’s unhappiness. And Eleanor has made it clear that she rejects Richie because how he mistreats them physically and emotionally. But since her family has sided with Richie in order to avoid further abuse. This leaves Eleanor confused and feel like an outcast in her own family. Due to Eleanor’s constant family struggles it is the reason why she becomes attracted to Park and his family.
Park, on the other hand, lived In a more stable household. Although Park’s parents have been together for a long time. He notices his parents still show each other affection regardless who was watching “Mindy?” That’s how Park’s dad came home every night, like the dad in a sitcom. (Lucy?) And his mom would call out from wherever she was, in here! Except she said it, In hee-ya! Because she was apparently never going to stop sounding like she just got here yesterday from Korea. Sometimes Park though she kept the accent on purpose, because his dad liked it. But his mom tried so hard to fit in every other way…. His dad barreled into the kitchen and scooped his mom into his arms. They did this every night, too. Full-on make-out sessions, no matter who was around. It was like watching Paul Bunyan make out with one of those It’s a small world dolls.” (Rowel 25) Park compares his parents greeting routines like watching the I LOVE LUCY sitcom. In Park’s eyes, he sees his parents are totally in love with each other. He points out that even though his mother could possibly speak near perfect English, his mom decides to keep her Korean accent in order to please her father. Park clearly comes from a very supportive family who care for each other unconditionally.
Eleanor is further attracted to Park because he lives in normal supportive family environment compare than she does. She is amazed of Park’s home setting and is dumbfounded how he lives, “Park was probably going to break up with her tomorrow, and not even because she was huge. He was going to break up with because she was a huge mess. Because she couldn’t even be around regular people without freaking out. It was just too much. Meeting his pretty perfect mom. Seeing his normal, perfect house. Eleanor hadn’t known they were houses like that in this crappy neighborhood-houses with wall-to-wall carpeting and little baskets of potpourri everywhere. She didn’t know there were families like that. The only upside to living in this effed-up neighborhood was that everybody else was effed up, too. The other kid’s might hate Eleanor for being big and weird, but they weren’t going to hate on her for having a broken family and a broke-down house. That was of the rule around here. Park’s family didn’t fit. They were the Cleavers. And he’d told her that his grandparents lived in the house next door, which had flowers boxes, for Christ’s sake. His family was practically the Waltons. Eleanor’s family had been messed up even before Richie came around and sent everything straight to hell. She would never belong in Park’s living room. She never felt like she belonged anywhere.” (Rowell 127) Eleanor is overwhelmed by the fact how perfect Park’s home space is. She goes as far as comparing Park’s family as the Cleaver for the T.V. Sitcom. Eleanor realizes that compared to her family, and due to her self-esteem she quickly to believes that she does not belong in Park’s world. And for that reasons, in the end, Eleanor is not able to overpower her fear of belonging in a happy family setting along with Park and his family.
It’s not surprising why Eleanor and Park’s difference is what immediately attracted them to each other. The constant verbal abuse that Eleanor endured provoked by her stepfather Richie, brought her self-esteem to hit rock bottom and made her feel all alone. When Eleanor Met Park family she was amazed of different her family and his family were to each other. At a point, she compares Park’s family as the Cleaver which the Perfect T.V. family. And it’s for that reason that Eleanor did not continue to communicate with Park. She could not overcome feeling overwhelmed by how perfect Park life was. And She felt that she could never live up to the expectations of Parks family.
Rowell, Rainbow. Eleanor & Park. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2016. Print.