A Chain Never Broken

  • Category: English
  • Words: 764
  • Grade: 94
A Chain never broken

        In the essay "The broken chain" by M.F.K Fisher there is a fine distinction between justified punishment and unnecessary violence. How does the narrator wish for the reader to perceive her fathers actions, as punishment or abuse. In paragraph eight the narrator says, "I knew I was going to be punished." Just because the child has an understanding of why the punishment is taking place does not necessarily justify the hitting or spanking.

        Abuse is a very serious word. Abuse as defined means a corrupt practice or custom, and improper use or treatment. There has and will continue to be a very fine line between abuse and punishment in some peoples minds. However, some people feel that the difference between abuse and punishment is very distinct. Punishment as defined means to impose a penalty for a fault, offense, or violation. In comparing the two words in more detail you will notice significant differences. The way the narrator's father punished her was very physical and should be classified abuse. "He gave me twelve expert stinging whacks." Even the way that the narrator describes the way the spanking took place points to the fact that she was abused. The father views these spankings as harmless and innocent, however by the personal descriptions of the spankings by the narrator they appear to be not so innocent. Also the way that the spankings were enforced may have added to the abuse. Her father started these punishment sessions by saying, "pull down your panties and lie across my knees." "I was growing very fast and was almost as tall as I am now with small growing breasts." At the age of twelve this must have been humiliating to an adolescent girl adding emotional abuse to the physical.

        Why does the narrator call him Rex instead of her father? When you use abuse as a form of discipline, the parent is risking a loss of respect from their child, as this essay points out. Perhaps this was the narrator's way of showing that she did consider the spankings to be abuse and that was the cause of the lack of respect for her father. "I was overwhelmed by pity for the two people whom I had betrayed into this by my own stupidity." This clearly shows her regret for her action and is undeserving of additional abusive punishment. When two people decide to bring a child into this world they are not doing so for someone to hit. There are several alternatives to physical discipline. For younger children, raising your voice to a stern tone will notify them of their wrong doings. Or simply pick them up and remove them from the trouble area letting them know what they did was wrong. For older children, disciplining without violence is much easier by simply taking away things that they cherish as punishment. The bottom line is that children will be children and physical discipline is not the answer.

        Now the questions, does violence occur in a chain? Can this chain be broken? Is physical violence carried on generation to generation? Violence is definitely carried on in a chain, an unbreakable chain that should have never been started in the first place. The only way to avoid the chain of violence is to avoid it all together. "I have never been beaten."(pg.9) This is clearly a statement of someone who has always had violence in her life, if you were to talk to a child who has never encountered physical punishment they would respond with "my parents would never touch me","I have never been beaten." Her father Rex had almost succeeded in breaking the chain of not hitting her in anger, until the day he slapped her face. Of course this is not including the spanking, which Fisher, due to her upbringing, was not aware, was abuse at the time. This just proved that the chain couldn't be broken.

        Why does Fisher not consider her fathers discipline to be physical abuse? One will never know for certain, perhaps she loves him too much to admit that he might have abused her. Maybe her upbringing shaped her to believe that was the way things were supposed to be. Whatever the case, physical discipline is frowned upon in this day and age and for good reason. With such a broad range of disciplining techniques out there, there is no need for use of the old fashion physical discipline to correct a child's bad behavior. Perhaps with this in mind the chain will be broken, only by never being created in the first place.

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