“The Break”: How Family Can Affect the Growth of a Person

The people a child grows up around impacts their viewpoint on life.

A common factor with each of the characters lives have to do with their family, and how the family had played a part in the way they are shaped. Tommy grew up with his mother and his racist, abusive father, growing up in those conditions made him be very empathetic, it made him understand a different view of the world, and he a young boy seeing his mother face abuse from her husband for her race modified his viewpoint on men and specifically white males. Phoenix growing up without seeing a lot of her family made her lack emotional connections and support, different from Emily who grew up rich in family. Phoenix was known to occasionally run away from the support groups offered to her, not much different from many of the children living in Winnipeg’s North End today. Emily grew up in a loving home, and although not very rich, she still had her mother, father, siblings and aunts and uncles to raise her. She is very loved and very in turn very caring.

Winnipeg’s north end is known to be deep in poverty, racism, and crime. Many in Winnipeg do not venture into the North End. Many are largely unaware of life in the North End, and what it is truly like (I don’t truly know what life is like for those living in the north end, and I never will unless I live there myself). Many of those who occupy the North End are the aboriginal youth. Aboriginals are poor and reviled within the area. The Break depicts what life in the north end is like for many families, in different perspectives, and how those perspectives connect. In the case of Emily and her family, life is difficult facing racism, and poverty, however, her and her family seem to deal with it all fairly easy. But, in Phoenix’s case, deep poverty and crime, and hate. Phoenix is living basically homeless, after just escaping the youth centre, she does get into trouble, with drugs, without education, lacking a fair childhood, growing up in a foster home without ever seeing much of her family. Tommy and his wife do not live in the North End area, his job as a police officer does require him to patrol the area quite often, and looking into Emily’s case of sexual assault he spends a great deal of his time there, making him aware of the problems faced there. His wife, however, is much like the rest of Winnipeg she is ignorant of what life there is in the North part of Winnipeg.

All these perspectives on the life in the north end are connected in one way or another. Tommy’s view is his observations on Phoenix’s and Emily’s life. Emily’s own perspective and attitude toward her life are lively and hopeful, yet melancholic, so bittersweet. Phoenix view is hateful and sorrowful, her attitude is hopeless towards the future. The families, the people each character had grown up with shaped the perspective they all had on life and the person they grew up to be. the support each person got from the people around them affects them greatly.

“The Break” by Katherena Vermette

Katherena Vermette‘s novel The Break is about how a young 13-year-old Metis girl, Emily, is sexually assaulted at a party one night. The story makes a journey into the thoughts and feelings of each individual connected to Emily. Katherena Vermette tells a story through the eyes of everyone who is directly or indirectly linked to Emily, to uncover the truth about what happened that night.

I chose to study this story, because of the many connections one could make to each character. Everyone in the story also has some problems of their own and it shows the regular lives of a lot of aboriginals, specifically the Metis peoples living in the west.

The story takes place in Winnipeg’s North End. Tommy, a Metis police officer feels caught between two different worlds, as he uncovers the secrets of the case. Stella has separated herself from the rest of her family. Lou is afraid of losing everyone she loves. Cheryl mourns for her sister, rain, and Phoenix is a homeless teenager who broke out of a holding facility. The story deeply tells of the lives of first nations and the storms they struggle with.