Fault Lines

by Nancy Huston

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What is criticized by the author in Fault Lines?

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In Fault Lines, Nancy Huston uses the device of centering on one six-year-old child to expose flaws in the society in which that child lives. While the author addresses flaws in the specific parenting methods of each child, her criticism is broadly social. The societies and time periods in which all four children live are very stressful politically, including war-time. Huston moves backward in time between generations in a single family, going from the period and place in which she was writing, early twenty-first-century United States, to 1980s Middle East, then to 1960s Canada and United States, and then to World War II Germany. The author contrasts a single physical “flaw,” an oddly shaped birthmark that each character has, with the socio-political flaws of the years of the setting. The parents’ relationships with their children seem to stand for larger social issues, as parents often pay little regard to the child’s well-being. The children are thus inflicted with untreated psychological problems that their parents carry forward, both as a consequence of their own family situation but also because of the challenging times when they were raised.

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