Analysis Of Make Lemonade By Virginia Euwer
The famous book author, Jim Butcher once said, “When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching- they are your family (https://www.keepinspiring.me/quotes-about-family/).” Family is such a big role in everyone’s lives, it helps define people and who they are. In this case, it brought the best out of LaVaughn and Jolly. In the novel, Make Lemonade by Virginia Wolff, the main character, fourteen-year-old LaVaughn is looking for a job. She lands herself a babysitting job for someone named Jolly. Jolly is a seventeen-year-old teen mom and has two kids Jermey and Jilly. Life for Jolly is hard, seeing that she is a single teen mom. Family is an essential factor in shaping the identity of the characters in Make Lemonade and making them more independent, and compassionate.
LaVaughn’s mom’s presence in her life shapes LaVaughn into a less independent person. First, LaVaughn searches for a job to earn money for school and for her future life. While interviewing for a babysitting job LaVaughn says, “I’d like the job, but I’ll have to ask my mom,” and Jolly is surprised by how LaVaughn has to ask her mom’s permission (Wolff 7). By LaVaughn saying that she has to ask her mom, it shows how much she depends on her mom, and how her mom affects her decisions. Additionally, LaVaughn’s mom is a person that cares about her daughter. LaVaughn starts to refer to her mom as “a big mom” while she is on the bus ride home preparing to talk to her mom about getting the babysitting job, and tries to play out the perfect way to tell her mom about the job (13). By LaVaughn saying that her mom is a big mom, LaVaughn hopes that she can finally get to choose something for herself to do, instead of being held back by the “restraints” of her mom’s opinion. After getting the babysitting job, LaVaughn’s mom starts to notice that Jolly’s life is becoming a bad influence on LaVaughn. When LaVaughn gets home her mom starts to list off cons about Jolly in the kitchen like how Jolly is “a mess” and how Jolly “needs to take hold”, and LaVaughn gets upset because her mom does not know “how hard Jolly tries” (36). LaVaughn starts to realize how much control her mom has over her, and realizes that her mom is being judgemental about LaVaughn having the babysitting job. LaVaughn’s understanding of how much control her mom has over her decisions shapes her into a more independent character.
Although LaVaughn’s mom makes LaVaughn more independent, LaVaughn and her mom have different feelings towards things which shapes LaVaughn to be a more compassionate person. First, LaVaughn’s mom is a person that can be discriminative. While LaVaughn is arguing with her mom, LaVaughn’s mom says, “ [dont] say AIN’T in this house” and her mom seems irritated that she particularly used the word “AIN’T” (Wolff 144). By LaVaughn’s mom saying this, it shows that she doesn't want her daughter to be seen or act a certain way and be seen as the average girl, and this causes LaVaughn to be more empathetic about people and their lifestyles. Second, LaVaughn’s mom starts to question aspects of Jolly’s life. When LaVaughn is arguing with her mom, her mom asks why “she has two babies” and questions her education, and targets LaVaughn with the question on why she “ isn’t [. . .] back in school” (93). By LaVaughn’s mom saying this it causes LaVaughn to have a deeper connection to helping and turning Jolly’s life upside down which makes her more compassionate about Jolly. Finally, LaVaughn’s mom starts to notice the direction that Jolly’s life is going in. While LaVaughn is talking to her mom, her mom starts to refer to Jolly’s life as a “ bowling ball” going into “the gutter” and this upsets LaVaughn because her mom doesn't know what she is going through (75). By LaVaughn’s mom saying that Jolly’s life is a bowling ball in the gutter, it is causing LaVaughn to gain deeper and stronger emotions for caring and helping Jolly and her family. LaVaughn’s mom’s opinion about certain types of people shapes LaVaughn into a more compassionate person.
Just like LaVaughn Jolly and her family didn’t always get along, Jolly’s past family life shapes her into a more independent person, and relies on learning things herself. First, Jolly starts to talk about her grandma and their past relationship. Jolly tells LaVaughn about her grandma, and how they used to spend so much time together doing things “but she died” and how she cant “ [ever] go back [to] see her” (Wolff 158). By Jolly opening up about her grandma and how she used to help her out a lot, she becomes more independent, and she is saying and guiding towards the direction on how she needs help with certain parts of her life. Second, LaVaughn tries to help Jolly out. While LaVaughn is helping Jolly out, Jolly freaks out, and LaVuaghn realizes that she “doesnt like somebody putting her in the program” and LaVaughn backs down (110). By Jolly freaking out, it shows that she didn’t have a lot of people in her life trying to help her out or who cared for her, and she isn’t used to getting this type of help, and having someone help her is changing her into a more responsible teen. Finally, LaVaughn shows Jolly certain ways to clean. While LaVaughn is showing Jolly how to clean, she is shocked by “how [this is] so easy” and how she didn’t know how to clean the ‘proper’ way (87). When Jolly realizes that she doesnt know such basic things she realizes that she didn’t have that good of a family or friendships in her past life because she doesnt know many simple things, and by receiving help from LaVaughn she is able to learn new things and apply them into her life. Jolly’s family life shapes her into a more independent person and a person who needs support.
Through being independent and compassionate, the character’s identity in Make Lemonade is shaped incredibly by family. Without family, the characters wouldn’t be who they are. If LaVaughn never babysat for Jolly she wouldn’t be as compassionate about Jolly and her family, and If LaVaughn didn’t meet Jolly, she and her mom could have somewhat the same opinions, and it wouldn’t allow LaVaughn to become the independent character that she became. If Jolly had never met LaVaughn she wouldn’t be the mother that she is, and she would have never received the support and help she needed which makes her a more independent mom. The formation of identity is a complex journey that cannot be achieved without other people in your life that support you and what you do. For many, the word family is a bond that never breaks. Family is an important aspect around the world because the relationships that are formed from your family or friends can help build you as a person.