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This collection arranges Chekhov's letters into three periods, each introduced by a short biographical essay: 1885-1890, the years during which Chekhov established himself as a writer; 1890-1897, which begins with his trip to Sakhalin Island and includes the years he spent living at Melikhovo; and 1897-1904, the final years during which his health declined, he rose to prominence as a playwright, and he married Olga Knipper.
In her general introduction, Lillian Hellman writes, "Chekhov was a pleasant man, witty and wise and tolerant and kind, with nothing wishywashy in his kindness, nor self-righteous in his tolerance, and his wit was not ill-humored. He would have seen right through you, of course, as he did through everybody, but being seen through doesn't hurt too much if it's done with affection." This image of Chekhov radiates from the letters collected in this volume.
Most of the letters are written to family members and a few close friends and associates, especially Alexei Suvorin, the editor of "New Times," a leading St. Petersburg newspaper; Maxim Gorki, the famous writer; and, later, the actress, Olga Knipper. The topics include family matters and business affairs; comments on his own writing and that of others; and his travels, especially the adventurous trip across Siberia to the penal colonies on Sakhalin Island in 1890.
A young farmer's mother is dying. The farmer, Honore, is concerned about his mother but he is even more concerned about getting his wheat in before the rains come. He is prepared to leave her to die alone, but at the insistence of the doctor agrees to hire Mother Rapet to tend his mother. Mother Rapet is an old washerwoman who supplements her income by watching the dying and preparing them for burial. La Rapet offers to work for Honore for a daily wage. Honore refuses, for he knows how obstinate his mother is and fears she will take a long time to die making La Rapet's services expensive. He insists on a set rate and La Rapet eventually agrees.
After three days, the mother still has not died and La Rapet realizes that she is losing money. Taking matters into her own hands, she tells the dying woman that at the moment before death everyone sees the devil. She then wraps herself in a blanket, puts a pot on her head, and throws a pail across the room making a huge noise. The dying woman thinks she is the devil and struggles to leap out of bed; instead, she collapses on the floor, dead.
The story begins with Dr. Frank Rapallo's son recalling his father's funeral and then progresses with a series of vignettes that show us who Dr. Rapallo was and how he died. Rapallo was an old time doctor who loved his work and whose patients told him "everything."
The boy was only seven when his father had radiation treatment for a cancer of his shoulder; subsequently, he had surgery to try to save the arm, but this left a hole "big enough to fit my hand." The hole never healed. He lost the arm anyway, but continued to perform operations with the assistance of Matthew, his young Japanese partner. The son reflects on his father's experiences in World War II--he was profoundly moved by the destruction in Japan and by the courage of Japanese physicians.
A strong, dedicated doctor, Rapallo was painstakingly honest, both with his patients and himself. In the end, he developed an incurable infection in his incurable wound. With characteristic dignity, Dr. Rapallo set about doing his last things--seeing patients for a few hours, visiting with his old friend Finch--and then in the evening took the contents of the vial he had prepared, and died.
Uncle Jimmie is slowly dying of cancer, "the rat that gnawed away behind his ears." Jimmie believes that cancer is part of nature and must, at some level, be accepted. At first he permits surgery--they removed his ear and cheek and upper lip--but he eventually concludes, "Stop cutting . . . let / me go to earth and snow and silver trees." However, Aunt Flo will not let him go; she reads St. Paul and prays for his recovery.
Next the surgeons remove Uncle Jimmie’s tongue (without his consent?), but his eyes "kept pleading: Stop the cutting, let me go . . . ." So then they removed his eyes. Finally, "a specialist / trimmed away one quarter of his brain ... " Jimmie is left with no memory, lying in bed among his tubes, while Auntie Flo "comes every day / to read to bandages the Word Made Flesh, / and pray, and pay the bills . . . . "
Summary:Virginia (Olivia de Havilland) marries Robert (Mark Stevens), but she soon becomes profoundly disturbed and her caring husband sends her to a psychiatric hospital. Using Freudian techniques combined with physical modalities of electroshock and isolation, her psychiatrist (Leo Genn) leads her to overcome her amnesia and to understand that her illness is the result of unresolved yet misplaced feelings of guilt over a boyfriend and her father. Just before Virginia is happily restored to Robert, the asylum patients are gathered together at a hospital party where they sing of their yearning for home.
A depressed housewife, Eve White (Joanne Woodward), is brought by her husband (David Wayne) to consult a psychiatrist (Lee J. Cobb) because her behavior has been strange. Although she denies it, she has purchased uncharacteristically seductive clothing and has been singing and dancing in bars.
Her surprised doctor is soon confronted with a different but equally inadequate personality, the sexy Eve Black. He recognizes the case as an example of the rare condition, multiple personality disorder, and embarks on a course of psychotherapy in search of the woman's missing memories.
Eve's unhealthy marriage disintegrates when she chooses to remain in therapy rather than move away with her violent husband. Psychotherapy helps her to the repressed memory of an instance of childhood abuse: being forced by her mother to kiss the corpse of a dead relative. A third personality, that of intelligent, insightful Jane, slowly emerges to replace the other two. Jane establishes a new life with a loving man.
A film characterized as comedy/drama, The Wedding Banquet is a sensitive, tender, and sometimes humorous portrayal of a family "situation" illuminating cultural, generational, and sexuality conflicts. Wai Tung (Winston Chao) is a successful Taiwanese-American whose parents, Mr. and Mrs. Gao (Sihung Lung and Ah-Leh Gua) are determined to orchestrate a suitable match for Wai Tung from their home in Taiwan.
Little do they know of Wai Tung’s long-term relationship with Simon (Mitchel Lichtenstein), but Wai Tung is able to play the reluctant recipient of his parents’ matchmaking because of the thousands of miles separating them. When they announce that they are coming for a visit, Wai Tung and Simon must not only hide their relationship (Simon becomes Wai Tung’s landlord-roommate), but Wai Tung decides that he is going to fake an engagement to Wei Wei (May Chin), a struggling artist who is one of his Taiwanese tenants (he’s a landlord himself), because she is about to be deported. It seems to be a perfect solution.
When the Gaos arrive they are shocked, disappointed, and embarrassed that Wai Tung and Wei Wei are not going to have a huge wedding banquet but have opted to get married in a civil ceremony with no guests except for them and Simon (still playing the landlord-roommate). After the wedding the group goes to dinner where one of Mr. Gao’s former army colleagues offers to host a "proper" wedding banquet for the newlyweds. Mr. and Mrs. Gao are ecstatic; Wai Tung, Wei Wei, and Simon are caught in a web by now and agree to continue the charade until the Gaos return to Taiwan. The wedding banquet takes place, and it is an opulent affair. In their drunken state, Wei Wei and Wai Tung make love in their "honeymoon" suite.
Not surprisingly, Wei Wei becomes pregnant. As the story unfolds, Simon becomes angrier and angrier; Mr. and Mrs. Gao stick around far longer than is expected because of Mr. Gao’s illness; Wei Wei decides to have an abortion, and backs out; and Mr. Gao witnesses (and hears) a blowout between Simon and Wai Tung, (no one was aware of his rudimentary English skills), and now knows that they are lovers.
The story ends with Wai Tung, Simon, and Wei Wei deciding to keep the baby and all live together and share parenting. Wai Tung discloses his relationship with Simon to his mother (who begs him not to tell his father, who already knows!), and privately Mr. Gao lets Simon know that he "knows" and honors him as his son’s partner. Mr. and Mrs. Gao leave for Taiwan, sadly but with the knowledge of their son’s happiness and the prospect of a grandchild, all in confines of this very, very strange family that is, nonetheless, a family.
Summary:A woman named Kitty calls the doctor and reports that her husband has died. "Can you come over?" she asks. At the house he finds that the husband has been shot in the head. It is evident that the wife has killed him. The doctor reflects that Kitty "held the record for most abused woman in Taylor County." He remembers how many times he has seen her badly beaten by her husband. In the end he decides to "play God." He calls the police chief and reports the death as a "clear" suicide.
Summary:A woman plants a plastic Christmas tree and wrapped gifts at the grave of her young son, speaking to him, but knowing the son can't hear her. What she hears are "the whispered words / and the gentle sobbing / that was becoming / a kind of music inside her."
Summary:An old, man--a Chinese immigrant to America--is dying in Chinatown, "a sick dog" who yearns for his homeland and for the wife "who died waiting / in the home of my province . . . . " He can't relate to the young political activists who want him to join in protest against "this gray life"--a life which has never really engaged him. He imagines his ashes being carried by the waterways to join the ashes of his wife; she is the helmsman who will lead him back to comfort and joy.