The Role of Parenting in Henry Roth’s Call it Sleep Essay

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The Role of Parenting in Henry Roth’s Call it Sleep

In the novel Call it Sleep, by Henry Roth, one of the hardest tasks is to truly understand the character of David Schearl. Written from the perspective of a young child, the reader has to wade through rambling streams of consciousness filled with significant meaning, as well as, well-developed mature thoughts. However, you cannot truly comprehend a character like David unless you fully understand his familial structure and the effects it has on him. David's parents are important because they prove to be the source of his rejection and confusion with the world around him. By rejecting his parents and their culture
David is only left with confusion, guilt, and loneliness. The
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Albert is not a good father figure, in the sense that, he doesn't fulfill any of Genya or
David's emotional needs. This absence of a strong husband/ father figure creates the tight and awkward bond between Genya and David.
Albert's absence in Genya's life creates a huge emotional gap and for comfort she latches onto David. Another factor playing into the deep connection between David and Genya is the alienation both feel in
America, a strange land, where neither feels as though they belong.
Genya's inability to assimilate to the American immigrant lifestyle has left her sheltered and alone in an apartment all day. Having no peers or equals to spend here time with, Genya is constantly babying
David to ensure that he will not turn elsewhere for his needs. As a child David thrives on this close relationship because he hates the ugly outside world. David seeks shelter in his mother's arms from people like Yussie and his sister, Annie, who wants to play "bad."
David, however, has more interaction with the outside world and finds his adventures there comforting as he grows older. David's escape to the roof and the journey he took when he got lost replaced his need to find comfort in his mother's arms. The distance between David and his mother grew when she divulged her great secret to Aunt Bertha. The two women spoke half in Yiddish and half in Polish creating a huge gap not
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