The Importance Of Siblings In Michael Cunningham's White Angel

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Unlike older brothers, who had to figure out life for themselves, younger siblings who, because of their age are relatively naive, constantly rely on the knowledge of their brothers to make up for their own inexperience. An example of this type of behavior occurs in the opening chapters of We The Animals. Specifically, in one scene the eldest brother begins speaking and the younger two crane their neck and lean in to soak up all his wisdom. The narrator goes on to explain their action“He was two years older than Joel and three years older than me. We waited for his judgment…” (22). Here, we can see the narrator is cognizant of his brother’s prominence as well as his own being dumb. Additionally, this pattern is also an earmark of the younger…show more content…
Eventually, leaning on older brothers knowledge infiltrates other aspects of life to the point that a sense of sibling dependency develops within younger siblings. This type of sibling interaction is a major theme in Michael Cunningham’s White Angel. In fact, in just the second paragraph, the narrator says, referring to his older brother “I made no move without his counsel” (379). Throughout the short story he continues to hint at his dependency on his older brother with phrases like “I lean into Carlton’s certainty as if it gave off heat” and “I run to Carlton for protection” (380, 389). [ANALYZE] Similarly, in We The Animals the protagonist overtly displays a dependency on his older brother Manny. For instance, in the pivotal chapter that brings the brothers in contact with the so called headbanger, the narrator twice says “I waited for Manny to…” followed by some ways in which he wished Manny would get them out of the situation (91). In like manner, as the vile scene unfolds, the protagonist thinks “wasn't no one to stop this. My brothers. Wasn't no one” (96).
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