In Bone Black how is the family's dysfunction defined?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dysfunction in a family is the inability for the family to work as a unit.  Since hooks does not tell her story in a traditional way, we see the family dysfunction defined by their reactions to her.

As a child, bell hooks’s family was dysfunctional because no one communicated or made an attempt to understand the others.  She got no sympathy from her parents or her siblings.  She considered herself a stranger from her father.

Her family considered her a rebel.  When hooks was trying to define herself, her family responded with ridicule and abuse.  Young hooks took refuge in her books.

I hear again and again that I am crazy, that I will end up in a mental institution.  This is my punishment for wanting to finish reading before doing my work. (p. 101)

Her family does not appreciate her.  They see her as a rebel, not as someone special.  As a result, growing up is a physically and mentally painful experience.

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