What is Ethel's importance in relation to Frank and Cee in the book?

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In Toni Morrison’s Home, Ethel serves as a model of the new American woman, one who is self-sufficient and respected in society and thus feels a sense of self-worth. Ethel comes into Cee’s life at a time when she is struggling to overcome both physical and emotional hardship, and she helps her come into her own and gain the strength and determination to rely on herself and believe in herself. Ethel stresses to Cee that she must own her own life and not let anyone assert power over her and control her, which in essence would amount to a life of slavery. Cee and Frank were abused as children, and Frank took it upon himself to protect his sister and care for her. As a result, she never learned self-reliance, which put her in danger. Frank, in Cee’s life, was an instrument of her oppression, whereas Ethel was an instrument of her independence. In short, Ethel serves as a model of female empowerment.

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