A pictorial representation of the Bunker FamilyLee-Anne LeveroneCMS 332Fall 2012
The Bunker Family • Archie: Archie fulfills the traditional gendered role as family patriarch and breadwinner. He is an ignorant and bigoted loading dock worker disturbed by the changes occurring in American society in the 1970’s. Archie is an undereducated, socially misguided, politically conservative churl who is never at a loss for words. • Edith: An antidote to Archies callous demeanor is his sweet but slightly ditsy wife, Edith. Edith also holds a traditional role within the family serving as housewife, mother and all around kinship maintainer. Also known as "dingbat” (an Archie euphemism), Edith does Archie’s bidding, endures his verbal diatribes and meekly attempts to diffuse the tensions within the family through light hearted banter; her objective is to avoid confrontation. • Gloria: Unlike her mom, Gloria is no wilting lily. Like her father, she is not afraid to voice her opinion. The only child of Edith and Archie, Gloria is a feminist and a liberal thinker who often advocates on behalf of the socially marginalized. Gloria’s role within her marriage is non-traditional; she’s the sole breadwinner while her husband completes his college degree. The couple live with Edith and Archie. Gloria is often caught in the middle when it comes to the verbal sparring matches between her father and husband. • Mike: Mike Stivic is Archies live-in son-in-law, a liberal college student and an intellectual who is married to Gloria. Nicknamed “Meathead” by Archie, Mike is a sensitive idealist, a righter of wrongs, a voice for the disenfranchised, and the liberal lightening rod to Archie’s conservative bombast. The confrontations between Archie and Mike serve as the basis for much of the Bunker family conflict.
CohesionThrough their communication, family membersdevelop, maintain or change their patterns ofcohesion.(31)The Bunker family is a cohesive work inprogress. It could be argued that they borderon being enmeshed. Close living quartersmeans everyone is in the others pocket.This, coupled with horizontal and verticalstressors, create dialetical tensions thatinfluence their communication and challengetheir cohesion. Yet, despite their contrastingprinciples, opinions and world views, it seemsthat the Bunker’s penchant for verbalwrangling is their dysfunctional way of bridgingthe generation gap – an attempt to achieverelational closeness. They also appear to be aloyal clan, one in which each membermaintains some semblance of individuality.
Adaptability …for the times they are a changing.“Rigid: Family members experience very low levelsof change, as well as authoritarian leadership andstrict roles and rules." (32)Adaptability in the Bunker family system is amixed bag.Change is not Archie’s strong suit; rigid is hismiddle name. Disturbed by societalchanges including the emerging roles ofwomen and minorities, Archie tries in vain tocontrol his world. He clings steadfastly to hisrituals, rules and role as leader of the pack.He’s top dog.Edith accommodates Archie and while sheseems more willing to adapt and experiencechange -to keep the peace - she typicallydefaults to Archies leadership role and rules.Conversely, Gloria and Mike are much moreflexible. They are more open andadaptable. They embrace change, aremuch more willing to share decision making,and to shift rules and roles.
Communication and Family Conflict“Conflict occurs when one person’sbehavior or desire blocks the goals ofanother” (210)“A conflict between two members of thefamily will affect other members.” (211)Archie abhors change. His blue collarconservative views stand in direct contrastto Mike’s academic, liberal leanings.Archie’s dogged attempts to maintaincontrol of his family, his rules, his role and hisworld are thwarted by Mike’s intellectualchallenges and belief systems. Mike is abarrier to Archie’s goals.Diametrically opposed, Archie and Mikecreate patterns of conflict in the form ofendless arguments about the least littlething. This dynamic resonates and impactsthe family system.
Family Developmental Stresses “The past and present family stresses, are affected by all levels of the larger system in which the family operates. These are the life course concerns – social, cultural, economic and political contextual factors.” (245) Civil rights, women’s liberation, the Vietnam war, Watergate, political and social unrest; all the realities of the day and sources of great stress for the Bunker Family. The trajectory of each individual’s life course is impacted by these significant historical changes. “Stress occurs when the individual’s level of personal functioning cannot manage the problems in his or her environment.” (242) Archie is a man in his 50’s, a veteran of WWII who longs for the days when “girls were girls, and men were men.” His individual , generational and historical time are stuck in a bygone era. Vertical stressors unique to the Bunkers, converge with the horizontal stressors of the 1970’s, creating major disruptions in the family system.
Unpredictable Stress and Family Coping PatternsUnpredictable Stresses: the result of circumstances that disturblife patterns but cannot be anticipated from adevelopmental or life course perspective.” (277)A man, posing as a police officer knocks onthe Bunker’s kitchen door. Edith is the only one home.She answers the door.He asks her assistance.He says he’s looking for a rapist that waslast seen in her neighborhood.Edith is trusting and naïve. He’s anauthority figure. She assumes he’s safe.She lets the man into her home.Edith finds out too quickly that the policeofficer is, in fact, the rapist himself.He attempts to sexually assault her.
Stressors“Past experiences with crises prepare familymembers to understand new crises whenthey occur, but they may also re-traumatize.” (279)Gloria understands. She is also a victim of asexual assault. At the time, she wascounseled on the difficulties of prosecutinga rape charge in that day and age; re-victimization was rampant, so she opted notto pursue.Archie uses Gloria’s experience as anexample for Edith to move on – to not getinvolved – it would be too disturbing for her.Gloria says avoidance is wrong, that Edithmust face the reality of her experience tohelp her cope.True to form, the Bunkers repeat their wellworn patterns of communication even incrisis. Archie and Mike Argue, Gloria getscaught in the middle and Edith avoids.
Stages of Family Crisis Shock/Denial “Denial is transformed into an intense desire to recapture what was lost.” (285) • After the assault Edith lives in a state of shock and fear. • She feels guilty for her part in the assault – after all, she let the intruder into her home, her safe haven. • Despite being the only victim that can identify the rapist and regardless of Gloria’s urging, she refuses to cooperate with police. She wants to forget that the incident happened. • She busies herself with mundane tasks in an effort to forget and to recapture what was lost – her sense of well being. • Just the sight of the assailants tie triggers fear and panic.
Recoil• Archie is angry and frustrated by Edith’s inability to cope. She’s no longer fulfilling her role.• Despite Mike’s attempts to console her, Edith cries out that she’s to blame. The assault never would have happened if she hadn’t let the man into her home.
Depression • Edith’s anger, fear and guilt eventually turn inward. She isolates herself, refuses to talk about the assault, to leave the safety of her home and to speak with police. • Archie attempts to understand and console Edith, to alleviate her fears. • Archie uses his limited relational currencies to try and comfort Edith. Positive verbal statements “everything’s going to be alright,” and physical intimacies like touching, holding and hugging to support and comfort Edith. • Gloria uses her known resources – her own attempted rape experience - to inform and educate her mother; to reassure her that it wasn’t her fault.
Reorganization The Turning Point for Edith • Gloria is supremely frustrated by her mothers avoidance and her “selfishness” when she refuses to identify the assailant in a police line-up. • Gloria yells and screams at her mom. She pleads with her that her refusal may put the rapist back on the street - setting the scene for more women to be victimized by him. Gloria cries out in anger that Edith is not the woman she knows and loves - she no longer considers Edith her mother. • Angry, Edith slaps Gloria’s face. In that moment, she’s freed from her emotional shackles. Edith has an awakening, she finally recognizes what needs to be done. She puts her coat on and asks Archie to drive her to the police station.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Galvin, Kathleen M., Carma LeeBylund, and Bernard J. Brommel. Familycommunication: cohesion and change. 8th ed. Boston: Pearson Allyn and Bacon, 2012. Print.