.. ances of individuals in troubled marital lives that also escape toward a better life. Delia Grinstead in Ladder of Years is a neglected and attention-starved housewife whose husband, Sam, had joined her fathers medical practice with other personal aspirations which included marrying a Felson girl, any daughter would do. Getting a wife was just on your agenda, you never loved me at all, (Ladder 29). Disrespected by her children as well, Delia struggles to have conversations with her children about issues other than what they need at the grocery store.
Her children interrupt her when she begins talking about her day and even find it too difficult to give her phone messages left on the answering machine before they erase them. On one occasion Delia returned home from the grocery store only to be greeted by a disillusioned son whose primary concern was how much food was in the pantry. Delia: The funniest thing Carroll! I was standing in the produce section minding my own business– Carroll: Theres not one decent thing in this house to eat. Interrupted as usual, Delia turned her attention to the grocery bags. Sometimes she felt like a tiny gnat, whirring around her familys edges, (23). Due to the frequent alone time Delia would have, she quite often throws herself into romance novels to experience passion.
As was her normal routine, she curled up in the loveseat to fall helplessly into the supermarket plot (27). Delia ultimately has an affair with a man by the name of Adrian Bly Brice. With him, she begins once again to feel passionate about a man and feel self-confidence in herself. When her conscience begins to get the best of her and she begins to feel guilty about the affair, she breaks it off with Adrian. Finally, Delia decides to escape the town and family who neglect her, and she leaves with no possessions or anything else and starts a new life independently.
This again enforces the idea that another Anne Tyler character involved this time in a strained marital life seeks escape to better her situation despite what that escape entailed. Another example of a character who escapes a distressful marital situation is Ali Ardavi in Your Place is Empty. In this story, Ali finds himself married to a termagant wife who is constantly nagging him to get a job. Annoyed by the stress placed on him by his wife, Ali flees to Shiriaz, in another area of Iran. It is there that he lives out his remaining days happy and free of his wife before dying of a brain hemorrhage.
Four years ago he had died of a brain hemorrhage, slumping over at a dinner table, where hed gone to be free of his wife (Empty 955). Ali, like many of Anne Tylers characters, was unhappy in his marriage and thus finds an escape, which allows him to obtain a better personal life. Similarly in Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, Beck Tull reaches a point in his life where he decides that he no longer is happy and thus begins searching for an escape. Beck had married young and began raising his family almost immediately. He felt this thrust into adulthood had robbed him of opportunities in his life.
Maybe if I hadnt settled down, life would have been different, maybe even better (Homesick 33). Buck therefore escapes his wife, Pearl, and his family to pursue his dream of being a prosperous traveling salesman. He flees to another town to start over and does indeed become successful. However, a void is still present in his life, and when he returns home, he finds that Pearl has begun anew as well. She has remarried and has found new happiness without Buck. Assuming that his happiness would be associated with money, Buck abandons his wife and children to chase that dream, but upon returning he finds that life has moved on without him.
His wife had too found an escape from her situation and had discovered a better life that did not include Buck. A final example of a character unhappy in his marital life is Avery Blevins from Average Waves in Unprotected Waters. When his son is diagnosed with a disability at an early age, Avery grows increasingly restless with his wife, Bet. Avery wouldnt have anything to do with anything once he was diagnosed, (Waves 928). When Avery is unable to handle the challenges marriage and life in general present to him, he flees from the situation to start anew.
Avery leaves with intentions of attaining a life full of fewer hassles than those he had previously faced. Unfortunately, the chances of that ever happening are very remote since problems can occur in life at any given time. Nevertheless, Avery also feels strife in his marriage and thus turns to an escape to rid himself of the difficult situation with his wife and disabled son. Distress in his marriage motivates Avery to escape to a better personal life. In addition to escaping from strained families and marriages to seek better personal lives, some of Tylers characters involved in unpleasant and unstable friendships search for a break away from them and a better life without them. In Ladder of Years, Adrian Bly Brice flees his home in Roland Park hoping to escape his meddling friend, Rosemary who has often stopped by his apartment unannounced and has even been spotted snooping through his mail in an attempt to stay actively involved in his life.
When confronted with these issues she has justified her actions by saying, I have only ever done what I do out of a concern for your well being Adrian (Ladder 119). Nevertheless Adrian leaves Roland Park to start a life without his intrusive friend. Tyler portrays the unhappiness found in this friendship and the need for an escape from it in order to pursue a better life through Adrian. In Teenage Wasteland Donny, as seen previously, seeks escape from his restrictive parents, but it can also be mentioned that he searches for a life without his tutor, Cal, as well. Cal, along with the other kids who are around Cals home, encourages Donny to neglect his responsibilities at school and home. Donny finds himself torn between his family and the tutor.
He also finds it difficult to choose the right path from the options they present to him. Donny finally chooses to break away from both influences for his own personal survival and happiness. There was something exhausted and defeated about him. It all had become too much for him to handle. The first week in June, during final exams, Donny vanished. He simply never came home again (Wasteland 1005). Donny just could not choose which path was correct, if any at all.
He decides instead to create his own destiny, as difficult as it will most likely be for him. Feeling unhappy and unsettled with his friends and his family, Donny flees to pursue a better life on his own. He is another example of the ever-present theme in Tylers work that involves a character breaking from their presently unhappy situation in search of a better personal life. Life presents situations all the time with either terrible problems to overcome or exciting challenges to meet. Either way, they are changes.
Some changes present difficulties and others offer great rewards. Anne Tylers novels and short stories portray characters existing in already difficult situations with which they are not happy and from which they must therefore seek a change. Whether it is in a familial, marital, or friendly relationship, the character is not satisfied and seeks escape to pursue a better personal life. That can be a philosophy for all to follow. No matter how settled life may seem to be, if one is not content, then he is not living to the fullest degree and should do all he is capable of to make his situation better. Making life better and ones self happy should be an objective at any age.