Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Model Home

The model home in “The Rake: A Few Scenes from My Childhood” stuck out to me for a few reasons. At first I thought it was ironic that this incredibly dysfunctional family lived in the model home. Then it occurred to me that, even though author David Mamet’s family is an extreme example of the pain that families often inflict upon each other, most families seem to be this “model” family on the outside but are really very dysfunctional on the inside. It made me think that the fact that the Mamet family lived in this perfect house wasn’t really a contradiction to who they were but instead added to this appearance that they really were this perfect family. Many things in the story supported this idea that the Mamets had the appearance of a typical family. They lived in a nice, new subdivision and the two children attended the local high school. No one in the family talked about the beatings and hatefulness that the parents inflicted upon their children, and Mamet even mentions that the children would be punished if their parents deemed that they were disgracing the family in public.

Also, a model home is the house that the builders of a subdivision show their clients to give them an idea of what their homes will look like or what the possibilities are for their own home designs. The model home has to appear perfect but usually the builder doesn’t construct it as carefully as he does the houses that people actually live in because the appearance is the only thing that matters when he is trying to influence people to buy his houses. I know about this first of all because my family has been through the house-buying process many times and has actually owned a home that the builder later decided to use as his model home, also my grandfather is a contractor. This is why after reading the story I was immediately drawn to this model home image. The model home is designed to look great but isn’t built as well as it could be. This reflects the way that the Mamet family takes great pains to appear normal but the parents neglect to build healthy relationships with their kids. The whole family is in a lot of pain and is definitely unstable just like the typical model home.

I remember when my family and I lived in our neighborhood’s model home. We always had to makes sure that the house looked perfect because people could come by anytime to look at it as it was also on the market at that time. We constantly had to do that superficial kind of cleaning where you stuff all the clutter in drawers or rearrange your stuff so it looks less messy. This kind of cleaning doesn’t really help because you just have to deep clean later but it works because people are only looking at the surface of your house. As I read the story I remembered this because I began to think about why the Mamets were so dysfunctional. I think that maybe the Mamet parents didn’t seem to care about the relationships within their family because they knew that people on the outside only see the surface and it was just easier for them to stay on the surface and take their pain and frustration out on their kids than deal with it. Its like they were constantly surface cleaning by stuffing their emotional baggage on their kids instead of dealing with it and putting it in its proper place.

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