Family and Responsibility

Concepts of family and responsibility in the twenty-first century drive The Slap. Whether it was right or wrong, Harry's slap forces everyone at Hector’s barbecue to assess their values. For many, the slap is a polarizing action that breaks up friendships or reinforces familial connections. Aisha is particularly affected by this act and is forced to explore her responsibilities as a wife and as a friend.

Aisha takes a balanced view of the slap. She recognizes that Hugo was acting horribly, and she feels that Harry should not have hit a child. She disapproves of Rosie’s determination to bring Harry to trial for assault. Although she wants to be loyal to her friend, Rosie, Anouk reminds her that she must also act out of loyalty to her husband’s family. Since Harry is Hector's cousin, Aisha is forced to overcome her feelings in order to preserve her family’s relationship. At first, Aisha tries to provide emotional support to Rosie, but their relationship is brought under additional stress. Rosie later demands that Aisha cut off all contact with Hector’s family, which Aisha refuses to do. Ultimately, Aisha sacrifices her relationship with Rosie in order to preserve the relationships of her family.

It seems that Tsiolkas might have written a novel promoting families first, but this is a problematic interpretation. Tsiolkas does not pretend that it is easy to maintain a healthy family. All of the married characters in the novel are constantly forced to evaluate the stresses that their families place upon them. When Aisha is given the choice to contact Art again, thus jeopardizing her marriage to Hector, Anouk advises Aisha to cut off all contact. When pressed about whether she wants to remain with Hector, Aisha replies, “That’s what you people who are not married don’t ever understand. When can you ever be sure?” Manolis experiences a similar conflict when he finds himself jealous of Thanassis for leaving his wife. However, most of the characters in the novel resist the temptation to leave their families.

Still, Tsiolkas resists offering a clear-cut statement on this devotion. Gary is clearly unhappy in his marriage to Rosie and he seems to be descending into alcoholism. Additionally, Anouk lives happily and...

(The entire section is 946 words.)