The conflicts in the family surround Martin and Emily’s relationship. Emily’s drinking habits initiate a confrontation with Martin. When Martin inquires about his wife’s earlier drinking, she immediately responds “because I drink a couple of sherries in the afternoon you’re trying to make out a drunkard” in a sharp, unforgiving tone99. According to Roberta Caplan, some people may drink abusively during a personal crisis and then resume normal drinking Groiler which explains Emily’s “rhythmic sorrow” filled with “alcohol”102. In addition, fear and worry for his wife an children make Martin feel uneasy.
Returning from work a year ago, Martin stumbled upon his children crying and his wife intoxicated after the baby had been dropped on her “frail skull”100. Martin then hired a maid in order to watch the children and look after Emily100. Significantly, the setting’s effect on the family’s relationship demolishes their closeness. Martin’s surroundings “seemed vast and somehow desolate” because he is aware of his wife’s’ displeasure living up north 97. Being away from her family and friends in Alabama, Emily takes out her frustration of her new environment on her family100. Many flaws exist within this family;however, the family still seeks comfort in one another.
Although Martin’s family faces dilemmas, the love in the family remains evident. Initially, the devotion that Martin shows towards his children illustrates his good nature. Martin views his children’s faces as “radiant as flower petals, equally loved” 103. Moreover illustrating his love for his children, Martin “kissed the tiny hand that lay palm-upward” 103. Furthermore, Martin’s hope to hold his family together exhibits his affection for his family. Martin constantly attempts to calm his wife in order to avoid displays of anger101. “Please go upstairs,”101 Martin begs of his wife so the children do not get upset seeing their mother frustrated. Lastly, the physical and emotional desire for Emily that Martin has, further shows how he cares for his family. Comforting his wife, Martin exhibits his love for her104. Martin watched Emily as she slept and his “old anger vanished”104.
McCullers fully examines the “immense complexities of love”104 in depicting both the conflict an love within one family, and how this can tear a family apart. Problems such as drinking excessively cause relationships to deteriorate. The dependence on each other and love for one another holds a family together. Ultimately, McCullers past encounters with alcohol and family drove her to write this story which shows that the choices people make vary depending on their intentionsGroiler.