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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sibling Substitution

Sibling Substitution

            Lisa Tuttle’s “The Replacements” depicts a young married couple and their relationship adjustment as a nameless intruder enters their lives. In the story, the relationship between Stuart and Jenny appears fairly cohesive, which causes Stuart to say it was “unthinkable for her not to return his call” (Tuttle 463). Initially, the couple seems to have a loving, supportive relationship of equally made compromises, yet once the unknown creature enters the home, the harmonious atmosphere is altered. Upon introduction of this unexpected being, Jenny says “Either I win and I keep him or you win and I give him up…There can’t be any compromise…” (Tuttle, 466). This blatant method of invasion reminded me of my life adjustment as my younger sister came into the world. Initially, I was excited to become the older, idolized sibling, yet upon her invasion of my seemingly harmonious world, the consistency I had once known would drastically change. As in Stuart’s case, there was far less compromise for my own desires over those of a new, vulnerable being.
            An interesting comparison can be made between both my infantile sister and this obscure creature from the story. In “The Replacements”, Jenny brings home the nameless individual and instinctively begins to tend to its needs. This maternal relationship between Jenny and the creature directly correlates with my mothers new maternal bond with my sister. Jenny continuously performs motherly actions, such as soothing the creature like a child saying, “There, there. Nobody’s going to hurt you, I promise…” (Tuttle, 468).  The matriarchal dominance over the relationship is what causes the shift in homeostasis in both cases. For Stuart and I, this means either letting the relationship go or adapting to the new environmental balance.
            Another comparison is that the creature from the story has immense physical and emotional similarities to a newborn child. I remember holding my sister after she was born, thinking “she’s beautiful because she was mine, yet not beautiful at all.” Infants are attractive in that they are small, fragile, and open to love, but they’re physical appearance isn’t the most appealing aspect they have to offer. Similarly in the story, the creature is “about the size of a cat, naked looking, with leathery, hairless skin,” which could easily be depicted as a newborn child out of context (Tuttle, 460). I could have described my sister’s appearance as having “limbs that seemed too frail to support the bulbous, ill-proportioned body…,” illustrating the direct correlation between the creature and my infantile sibling (Tuttle, 460).  Tuttle depicts the creature as child even further as it later sucks Jenny’s blood, paralleling the maternal act of breastfeeding in humans.
            The similarities between the “The Replacements” and my life experiences are easily depicted, yet the outcomes of the two are drastically different. In comparing myself to Stuart, we both handled the situations differently. In his case, he could no longer bare the discordant harmony in his relationship, deeming him unable to grow with his transitioning life. In my case, I found the ability to shift with my changing environment and transform my relationship into a reconstructed balance of desires with my mother, father, and sister all intertwined.

Tuttle, Lisa. “Replacements.” American Gothic Tales. Ed. Joyce Carol Oates. New York: The Penguin Group. 460-474. Print

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