Friday, July 19, 2019

The Power of the Photograph :: Personal Narrative

The Power of the Photograph On the wall of my dorm room hangs a photograph that was taken at my paternal grandmother’s house. I’m on Grandma’s lap, and my sister is on the floor. I appear to be about two or three years old. It is after supper, and Grandma is reading to me.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  This photograph is interesting to me because it reflects two points that Michelle Citron makes in her book, Home Movies. First, the person taking the picture is asserting control over the interpretation of the memory. Second, there are clues within the frame that signify what has actually been left out of the frame. The item missing from this picture is my mother.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   My father took the picture in order to show me wearing the moccasins my maternal grandfather had just bought for me when we visited him. My mother had remained there, while we went on to visit grandmother. She rarely came with us to visit Grandma because they did not get along. Like her own mother, my mother could be moody, distant, and bad-tempered. Grandma, on the other hand, was somewhat meddlesome, but affectionate, and over-indulgent with us kids. Consequently, they argued over how we should be treated.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Grandma is pointing to the moccasins, which signify my mother’s absence. In some ways, the photo is a conciliatory gesture; my father is acknowledging his in-laws’ contribution to my happiness and well being. In another, less obvious way, it is an act of spite. Since my mother refused to be there, my father replaced her with his own mother in this happy family scene he has created.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Her absence is also highlighted by the presence of my sister, Rhonda, who was about nine or ten. When I was a baby, Rhonda and I were always in pictures together. Usually she’s playing â€Å"mommy† and holding me on her lap. She was very protective of me and would not let me out of her sight. Taking the role of my guardian often got her in trouble, especially when my mother’s temper flared. Here, she looks silly and relaxed, more childlike than she does in other family pictures.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Citron argues that since they are selective and often taken by men, home movies and family photographs assert a balance of power within the family and strive to promote the â€Å"good† memory of family: â€Å"parents in control, men in charge, families together† (15).

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