The Kiss

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The only people in the world, who love us no matter what we did and irrespectively what character we possess, include our family. They always are there for us, willing to give the first aid, support or just elevate our mood. Thanks God we have someone, who will never get disappointed in us or leave us just because we are boring. The main issue raised in the story “The Kiss”, written by Julia Alvarez in 1991, is relationship between the members of one family which ameliorate and deteriorate throughout the lifetime.

The meaning of the word relationships turns out to be quite vague, polysemantic and adjustable depending on context. In some way it determines our life. Furthermore, some people believe that this is by far the most valuable thing in life. Relationship is not just a state of being connected, but as well some responsibility, quality time spent together and loyalty. In the story we get acquainted with the father and his daughters, who are already adults and have their own families, but special kind of connection stayed between them and the father. In the text it is said that for one day in the year, for their father’s Birthday, they always became his girls again. No husbands or boyfriends were ever invited to the party.

The first thing, which I like in the story, is the way the author describes emotions the heroes go through. When reading, it is easy to see what characters feel to each other, and senses they experience in the reaction to someone’s words or deeds. For instance, the tensed relationship between the Papi (that’s the way daughters call their dad) and the youngest female Sofia can be easily read between the lines in the episode when “she embraced him at the door, but he stiffened and politely shrugged her off”. Another striking example would be the end of the tale, the father’s reaction to the daughter’s kiss: “That’s enough of that,” he commanded in a low, furious voice. And sure enough, his party was over. The effect of so-called pacification appears by the side of the grandchild, who is the epitome of father’s dream.

Another constituent part of the story, which I found truly interesting, is its realism. Usual people with their different problems are living their ordinary lives. A lot of things people are afraid of talking about were mentioned in the narrative. Among them: deep offence, mental pain, awkward situations, cultural misconceptions, and others. Yoselin Roman in his work “Survey of Latin-American Culture through Literature” (1997) says that in the story we can vividly see that the ground of misunderstanding between the father and the daughter lies on the mental level. Sofia feels like all her efforts to make her father content are futile just because of her gender role. In the United States, where the family moved, women are treated not in the same way as in Dominican Republic.

One more thing which turned out to be very appealing for me issymbolic part of the story. Every gesture, every movement, every kiss means something. The main key in understanding the whole story is to figure out what the very last kiss symbolizes. The most easy, evident and finally logical answer is conflict between parents and children. Still, everything is not that easy, not that obvious. Silvio Sirias in “Julia Alvarez, a Critical Companion” (2001)admits that the youngest daughter is the cleverest out of all the sisters, because that is just she who tried and succeed in being honest and happy in her own way. The kiss is a sign of self-affirmation. Sofia is drawing a line at being an unnoticeable lady, who gave a birth to a male grandchild for her father. This is her rebel.

Surprisingly enough, this story made me think about relationship in general and among family members in particular. This is something you need to take care of, shelter and appreciate. So fragile, they can be broken by one wrong word or move, and never be the same again. Another utmost thing is to believe in yourself and live the way you will enjoy. I do absorb that it is not that easy to keep the balance between your personal and family life, but no one said this is easy; the key to happiness cannot be understated in its complexity.

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