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The Power of Family

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The Power of Family

In David James Duncan's The Brothers K, Irwin Chance, one of the four sons of the Chance family, engages in the most dramatic and striking changes for the worse, as the harsh reality of a corrupt society affect Irwin in Vietnam. Initially a religious, athletic, well rounded young boy, Irwin spent his adolescent years spending time with his brothers conversing on both baseball and religious topics. Never missing a day of church, Irwin always had something secure to rely on, whether it being church or his two parents. As the family drifts apart with most of the sons departing for college, Irwin becomes enlisted in the Vietnam War, not only altering his peaceful way of life, but also challenging his sanity, as the harsh conditions cause Irwin to assault a captain with the consequence of a hospital prison. With the hospital's mistreating disposition, Irwin faces the abuse of medical drugs and electroshock therapy. A once extremely passionate holy boy soon transformed into a savage man questioning his beliefs. In spite of these drawbacks, by the end of the novel the family reunites, also rescuing Irwin. In conclusion, Irwin discovers his newfound infatuation for wood-stoves, as him and his brother's own their own business. And once again, Irwin looks out for his father, nourishing him, causing Irwin to relive his past ambitions as a young compassionate boy.

The plot focuses on the initially pious, close-knit, and tranquil Chance family from Camas, Washington from 1950-mid-1970's, whose separation inevitably results in chaos and destruction of their family. Kinaid Chance, one of the four brothers, narrates his family's struggles and disputes, beginning with Hugh's, the father, deteriorating major-league baseball career, forcing him to work in a low-paying factory in order for him to provide for his family. When a manufacturing mishap occurs damaging one of Hugh's thumbs, this further threatens

Hugh's baseball career. Although the family remains unified, Hugh and Laura habitually argue, causing Laura to storm out of the house, only to subsequently return. Because of Laura's unknown childhood secret, scaring her for life, Hugh manages to cope with Laura's sensitive unconventional behavior. Soon, in order to save his career, Hugh agrees to participate in the unorthodox experiment and surgical operation of switching the placement of his big toe and damaged thumb. In the blaze of success, Laura manages elevate her income by creating her own hygienic cleaning service. When Irwin is drafted to join the Vietnam War, he slowly becomes insane, and harasses a captain who sends him to a prison hospital, which tortures Irwin, damaging him further. One of the brother's travels to India where the girl of his dreams abandons him, while another faces family issues as his girlfriend becomes pregnant. Together the family reunites, and along the way they free Irwin from captivity. With their customary life, challenged by a corrupt society and harsh reality, the Chance families learn to cope with the weakness accepting Hugh's lung cancer. With the boys grown up, educated,

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