How does the theme of perseverance apply to Etched in Sand?

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In Etched in Sand, the theme of perseverance applies to the unbreakable bond of Cookie’s five children and to Regina herself, who endures despite many hardships and grows to be a successful lawyer with a strong sense of justice.

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In American attorney Regina M. Calcaterra’s memoir Etched in Sand, themes of perseverance and resilience are explored in her harrowing adolescence on Long Island, New York.

Regina is the middle child of her mother’s five children, all of whom had different fathers. Because of their mother Cookie’s mental instability,...

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Regina and her siblings Cherie, Camille, Norman, and Rosie had to learn to fend for themselves at tender ages. Throughout their childhood, they were subject to domestic abuse, poverty, and even homelessness. An abusive drunk, Cookie would often swear at them, beat them unconscious, and neglect their safety and well-being, leaving them in places such as abandoned lots and homeless shelters. Despite all this, the five siblings grew close and looked out for one another. In fact, the title of the memoir is derived from a beloved ritual of theirs, as they would often roam the beach without their mother and write their names in the sand together.

In the face of hardship, Regina does her best to persevere. She constantly reminds herself of the fact that her struggle will soon end—and she need only hold on:

On the days that feel dark and endless, I make myself a simple promise: I’ll get out of bed in the morning. Then I’ll head up the hill to class. If I put one foot in front of the other, day by day, I’ll move closer to the light at the end of all this struggle.

Finally, Regina and her siblings disavow their mother and take their chance with the American foster care system—even though there is a high probability that they will be separated. After Regina legally emancipates herself at age fourteen, she is disappointed to learn that Rose and Norman are still trapped in the guardianship of her mother. This motivates her to finish school and become a lawyer who fights for the rights of abused children such as she once was.

My commitment grows stronger with the realization that my fight for others to maintain their dignity is exactly the same fight I’ve known all my life.

In 2002, she won the civil case IN RE: the Parentage Regina M. Calcaterra, which is the first case in the United States to grant adult children the right to DNA paternity testing.

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