Why are Gabriel and Elizabeth's foils? Does Elizabeth stand up to Gabriel and protect John, for example? Give examples.

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bmadnick eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Elizabeth and Gabriel are foils because Gabriel is a violent, angry man. Elizabeth, the only other adult in the family, is all that stands between Gabriel and her children. She must protect them, for they have no one else.

Gabriel beats his family, and they are always tense when they know Gabriel is coming home because of what he might do. Gabriel attempts to intimidate Elizabeth, not only with the possibility of violence, but with his looks as well. When he looks at her, "she found in his face, not fury alone, which would not have surprised her, but hatred so deep as to become insupportable in its lack of personality."

The children are also afraid of Gabriel, and Elizabeth knows Gabriel will get around to blaming John for what happened to Roy, his dad's favorite. Elizabeth does stand up for John, telling Gabriel that he has spoiled Roy and that he is responsible for  Roy's behavior. "Ain't a soul to blame for Roy;s lying up there now but you -- you because you done spoiled him so that he thinks he can do just anything and get away with it." Elizabeth saves John from a terrible beating.

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The Rockpile

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