Individual Vs. Society In Wayne Johnston's The Son Of A Certain Woman

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Growth through Individual vs. Society
Most individuals follow the pre-determined set of beliefs and ideals society has set in place for us, but there are few who either go against these beliefs or do not have the option to fit into societal standards. Percy, the protagonist of Wayne Johnston’s novel, The Son of a Certain Woman is one of the few who both challenges societal views, and cannot fit into them. As a result of this, he experiences tremendous growth throughout the story. Percy lives in a predominantly religious era and by being an open atheist and going against social norms, he develops a very rebellious nature. Although Percy is open about his atheism, he has to remain private about his family’s secret, which is his mom and his aunt’s lesbian relationship. This kind of relationship violates the societal values of the times, and is even punishable by incarceration. To hide the truth, he must lie and therefore grow into a very
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John’s. He did not choose to be one but society chose for him because he was not perceived to be “normal”. As a result of this Percy becomes the victim of bullying and teasing. Percy becomes so used to being harassed; he develops into an apathetic character. Earlier on in the novel, Sister Mary Aggie tells Percy if he goes to heaven, the sight of him will ruin heaven for others. When she said this to Percy, “her words stung” (Johnston 63), but later on in the novel, when insulted by a girl on how ugly he looks, he simply “nodded as if she had not insulted [him] but had merely said what no one knew better than [he] did was a truth [he] no longer cared about” (244). The manner in which Johnston introduces Percy differs from how he is illustrated later on in the novel. Later on in the novel, using words such as “merely” to describe the insult illustrates how verbal taunts have no effect on him anymore. Because he was rejected from society, he descended from a self-conscious timid boy to an apathetic
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