Affliction By Russell Banks Essay Research Paper

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Affliction By Russell Banks Essay, Research Paper Affliction “Portrait Of A Man Trying To Hang On” Wade Whitehouse is a man who is frightened to death of following in his father’s footsteps, yet he follows them exactly. His violent temper and alcoholism are giant neon signs of how much he is like his father Glen and how closely related their actions are. Wade and his brother Rolfe lived with a violent and destructive man whose behavior was both mentally and physically threatening to his sons. Their father had successfully destroyed them in a long process that began when they were young boys, as they stood and watched him strike their mother. These boys grew up with only feelings of fear and loathing toward their father. Rolfe is the son who in a sense escapes and tells

this story as the narrator. Wade, on the other hand, is captured by the violence and alcoholism and acts in the same manners as his father before him. Wade and his father anesthetize their pain through alcoholism which Rolfe manages to just barely escape. We see Wade as a drunk, abusive, and overall sad father, ex-husband and sheriff who has lost control of his life. He is a very complex character from a small town that becomes mentally ill as time goes by. Is this due to his alcoholism? Does everything stem from his alcoholism and the fact that his father was mentally and physically abusive to both him and his brother? Is alcoholism Wade’s affliction? Or is it the devastating and lingering effects of the child abuse he grew up with? There are many things in Wade’s life that

might have driven him to become an alcoholic. For example his actions have cost him his marriage to Lillian, his daughter Jill doesn’t want to live with him, he is a sheriff in a small town with little crime, his mother dies and his father is hard to cope with in his old age, and his girlfriend Margie only stands by him until finally she too has had enough. These seem like common occurrences in the life of many Americans today, yet these are the things that lead people to alcoholism. Wade is being held down by more baggage than most have. In a quest to assert himself, Wade strikes out against those who are most important in his life and is faced with the disrespect of the town. Wade is not only a man who has been beaten by his father, but by life in general. Wade’s life is

defined by him and his buddies hanging out, drinking and smoking weed. He is weighed down by his marital problems with Lillian and the problems he has with Jill. Even though he tries to make things better, things turn out worse. The most exciting thing in his life at the beginning of the book is the deer hunting accident he must investigate. The death of Evan Twombley, a prominent man, is literally driving him crazy, although this does not compensate for all the things that go wrong in his life. He is still an alcoholic and no one can change that. His background plays a huge role in how his life is turning out. He is a man with anger and violence built into his personality. These afflictions can be attributed to his abusive father who continues to make his life miserable.

According to the Webster’s dictionary, “Affliction is defined as a distressed or painful state or misery; a cause of mental or bodily pain, as in sickness or calamity.” (Webster’s 23) As stated on the website, “Alcoholism is defined as a disorder characterized by a pathological pattern of alcohol use that causes a serious impairment in social or occupational functioning.” (www.alcoholism.com) Alcoholism is an affliction for Wade. We see the occurrences in Wade’s life to be causing him pain in many ways. He is suffering through a lifetime of painful memories. His father seemed to need alcohol the way that most of us need air. In the first stages of alcoholism, the victim functions normally, but a few personality changes may be present: the inability to handle stress