Family CollageCMS 332Fall 201212/10/12 Zoë Cumler
CharactersThe Stone Family(click for arrows)Sybil: She is the stubborn, loving, bohemian mother. She is the rock of thefamily and is more dominant than her husband, Kelly. Together, they head atwo-parent biological family. She accepts her children for who they are, but ismore critical of outsiders. Little do her kids know, she is dying of breast cancerafter being in remission.Kelly: He is a college professor who is the other head of household. While hedoes compliment his wife, Sibyl’s personality well, she still holds the dominanceover his laid-back personality. He shares his wife’s loving and supportive valueswhen it comes to their kids.Everett: He is Sybil and Kelly’s oldest son. He has brought his girlfriend,Meredith home to his parent’s house for Christmas, and is thinking of proposingto her on Christmas day. He has become somewhat of a stranger to his familyafter moving to New York City to work as a successful businessman.
Characters (continued)Ben: Ben is the second youngest child in the family. He is a stonerdocumentarian living in Berkley, CA. He isn’t as straight laced as his brother,Emmett. He seems to be the only member of the family who is accepting ofoutsiders (i.e. Meredith).Susannah: She is the oldest daughter in the family. She has come to her parent’shouse for Christmas with her young daughter, Elizabeth, and is pregnant withher second child. She is loving towards her family and friendly to outsiders, butisn’t really a standout character.Thad: Thad is the 3rd youngest son in the family. He is gay and deaf and hascome to his parent’s home for Christmas with his partner, Patrick. The couple isconsidering adopting a child in the near future.
Characters Characters (continued)Amy: She is the youngest child in the family. She is a school teacher and issimilar to her mother, Sibyl, in that she is very critical and unaccepting ofoutsiders (i.e. Patrick and Meredith). She is difficult and insolent. (this is herprevious ex boyfriend/future boyfriend, Brad who comes into the movie at thevery end.Meredith: Meredith is Everett’s uptight, straight-laced, executive girlfriend fromBedford, NY. She has come with Everett to his parents house for Christmas. Sheis well behaved/mannered, and doesn’t exactly seem to fit in with Everett’sfamily. As a result of her failure to bond with the Stone family, she feels alienatedby them, including Everett.Julie: Julie is Meredith’s younger sister who comes to stay with Meredith aftershe leaves the Stone residence to stay at a nearby hotel. She seems to fit in withthe family much more than Meredith because of her down-to-earth personality.
Parent-Child Relationships/Relational Maintainance For the Stone family, maintaining parent-child relationships are vital to keeping the family strong. Since all of Sybil and Kelly’s kids live out of state or outside of town, it is extremely important for them to remain close.“Parent-child disclosure has received some attention, revealingthat self-disclosure does not involve all family membersequally” (Galvin, Bylund, & Brommel, 2012, p. 133). In the picture to the left, Ben and Kelly visit the local football field to smoke weed and talk. This seems to serve as their bonding time. Since Ben expresses that he knows about his mother’s recurring cancer, Kelly discloses to him the truth of how bad it really is .
Parent-Parent Relationships“Marital self-disclosure involves not only the disclosure byOne partner but the listener’s responses that can be perceived as supportive,understanding, accepting, or caring”(Galvin, Bylund, & Brommel, 2012, p. 132).Couple time: “Togetherness refers to times when couplessimply spend time being together, such as walks afterDinner” (Galvin, Bylund, & Brommel, 2012, p. 114). At the end of each day in the movie, Sybil and Kelly spend time reading, snuggling and discussing the events of that day. With their house full again with their children and theirf families, finding time to be alone can be difficult.
Sibling-Sibling Relationships“Adult siblings frequently confront the challenge of keeping connected acrossmany miles while raising their own children”(Galvin, Bylund, & Brommel, 2012, p. 111).The Stone siblings all live away from each other so it is difficultto maintain those sibling bonds. The siblings (especially Amystrongly dislikes the person Meredith has turned her brother,Emmett into. She blames Meredith for their now strainedrelationship.
Cohesion Galvin, Bylund, and Brommel (2012), describe cohesion as, “the emotional bonding that family members experience with each other” (p. 30).I would describe the Stone family’srelationships as very cohesive andslightly enmeshed at times. Theyare very close with one another butstill have secrets from each other.They appreciate each other asindividuals, as well as membersof a tightly-knit group.
Openness/Sexuality and communicationThe Stone’s have a very open relationship. Theyaren’t afraid to discuss their sexual selves with theirparents (especially with Sybil).Thad and Patrick’s relationship is proof of what anopen relationship this family has with one another. Homosexuality isn’t alwaysan easy subject to discuss/accept in some families, but Sybil actually jokesabout how she wishes all of her sons had been gay!
Family SecretsThere are a few different secrets that present themselves in the family over thelife of the film. The first secret to emerge is that Sybil’s cancer has returned andis worse than ever. She wants to keep this a secret from her children becauseshe doesn’t want to ruin Christmas for them. Everyone either ends up figuringit out on their own or realizes it by the end of the film. This type of secret isknown as a conventional secret. According to Galvin et al. (2012), this includes,“ information that is private but not ‘wrong,’ such as death, religion, andpersonality conflicts .Another secret that arises is that Emmettbegins to fall in love with Meredith’ssister, Julie . By the end of the movieThings turn completely awkward whenEmmett places the engagement ringhe bought for Meredith on Julie’s ringfinger. Everyone but Meredith seems todiscover this secret.
PowerAnother major theme in the relationships of the Stone family, is a struggle forpower. Meredith has had power over Emmett over the course of theirrelationship, but now that they are home at his parent’s house for Christmas,his family doesn’t like the person their son is becoming. Another power struggle occurs between Amy, her brother, Emmett and his new girlfriend. She likes to keep Meredith feeling unsure of herself, and is constantly treating her with disrespect. As a result, Emmett fights back against Amy for the power and wins.
Rituals“Rituals are not just pleasurable routine events; rather, ritualsserve central ongoing maintenance and relational functions”(Galvin et al., 2012, p. 113).The Stone’s family rituals around the holidays are what keep them sustained asa family. Continuing family traditions reminds people of who they are and wherethey came from. When the movie comes to a close, we see the family a year laterhaving returned to their parent’s home for the holidays. In her absence, it isclear that Sybil has lost her battle with breast cancer and has passed on. WEsee the family continuing their usual rituals. By doing this even after theirmother has died, they are keeping their memories of her alive and healingtogether as a family.
ReferencesGalvin, K. M., Bylund, C. L., & Brommel, B. J. (2012.). Family Communication (8th ed.). United States: Pearson Education.All pictures are from fanpop.com and stills from the actual movie.