Analysis of conflicts with self and society and along with a family In See You At Harry's by Jo Knowles


In this literary criticism the author shows internal struggle of characters and a family as a whole. Using specifically dialogue to show each of these problems within the family, self vs self along with self vs society. Tying in the meaning of this work as a whole which is to test the strength of this family of six “traditions”, accepting of what life brings. Along with a tragedy shocking the family.
Fern is the main character of this book, she is a 12 year old girl just going into middle school. She is caring and easy going character. That has to go to school and live in a town, with everybody seeing her face on extremely embarrassing commercials and photos all over town, because of her Dad trying to help the family business grow. Jo Knowles shows her internal struggle of having having zero attention whatsoever from her family. She struggles throughout the whole book to receive the attention she needs from her parents for example on page 13 Fern says “Flattered because he's (her younger brother Charlie) the only one in this family who ever pays attention to me? I don't think she (her Mother) gets how insulting that is”, as well as on page 26 “ I felt like I went from being a shadow to being completely invisible”, lastly on page 298 after her Dad missed her all dressed for her first dance Fern says “I am so used to being overlooked”. Knowles uses dialogue among with Ferns thoughts to show the desire to attract the loving Mom and Dad attention she longs to have.
Holden, is Ferns older brother who is in high school trying his best to find who he is. He is gay, which makes it a very hard task to try and not to get bullied on a daily basis. Jo Knowles has this character Holden show self vs self along with self vs society. He's bullied everyday on the bus, kids calling him names (which I am sure you can imagine what names), to kids psychically beating him up. On page 44 Fern talks about Holden, imaging and wishing he had a whole new life, being a part of “who he is”; place where he is accepted in school and by his family fully. Knowles has Holden always wishing he is in his “world” or trying to lay low and not draw attention in school. Also there are several times he runs away time after time from home because his family does not “understand”. This issue is not only in school and on the bus, it is with his family as well, there is no escaping for him. For example on page 249 “You’re afraid he’s my boyfriend. You’re afraid that I’m gay. Well, guess what? You’re right! Is everybody happy now? I’m gay and Gray is my boyfriend..”, Holden says forcefully while they are having a disagreement. Knowles always has dialogue with a little bit of tension with the Holden and his Father.
Along with everything else this family has to deal with Charlie there three year old son/brother that passed away. This was definitely major conflict and represents the internal struggle each person has in the family within themselves. Every single one of them blame themselves for Charlie's death, they carry the guilt with them every single day. For example on page 200 “I keep waiting for my mom to look up. To look at us. Look at me. But she doesn't. Maybe it's because she can't. Maybe it's because she knows it's my fault”, says Fern. Jo Knowles has lines like this serves times throughout the book of Fern blaming herself. Another example is on page 280 where the older sister Sara says “It's just too hard”, she says. “Knowing how often I chose sneaking off with him instead of taking care of Charlie.” There's also many times the Mother and Father blame themselves for being to busy or caught up in there own life, instead of caring and playing with Charlie.Finally on pages 301 to 310 they resolve the conflict of them blaming each other for the death. They learn how to accept what happened and try to move forward as a family. Ultimately solving the all the characters conflicts; Fern internal conflict with wanting loving attention, Holden self vs society of being gay, and the major conflict of the whole entire family blaming themselves for a death.
This criticism shows the self vs self and self vs society. Leading up to the main conflict of the family internal struggle with the lose of Charlie. Jo knowles shows the characters conflicts through dialogue and societies “expectations”. Once Fern and Holden both overcome their conflicts with both themselves, society, and family; the major conflict is solved of the “blame game”. Knowles wraps up See You at Harry's with them all accepting the loss of Charlie. Finally referring to the meaning of the work as whole which is the courage and power of one family being put to the test by internal struggles of main characters.


(M.S. 2016)