In the novel Crow Lake by Mary Lawson, the reader learns how personalities and habits can either tear families apart or keep them together. Luke the oldest brother and Mat the youngest both learn how to use their opposite personalities to run a successful household. Yet have advantages and disadvantages to their characters.
Luke being the oldest he feels that he is responsible for his siblings, but his habits clearly show that he cannot raise them on his own. He was still holding onto the fact that he was able to take care of them. First off, Luke has a laid back attitude. He thinks that everything is going to work itself out and that he does not have to worry about a thing. This kind of attitude has both advantages and disadvantages. One of the benefits was the time that he had to be with his two little sisters. This is evident as he stays home a lot and does not toss them between neighbors to be babysat. Luke’s personality also showed a very optimistic aspect. After Luke announced that he was not going to go away to teachers college and that he was going to stay home and get a job, Matt and Aunt Annie were trying to convince him not to make that decision he said; “I know I can do it. I know it wouldn’t be easy, but neighbors would help and everything. We’d work it out. I know I can do it” (77). Next Luke is very nonchalant about money and job opportunities. This is mainly how Matt and Luke collided. Their attitude about money and jobs were very different. Lawson writes about many fights the brothers have had over one being too stressed or the other not being apprehensive enough. For example, Lawson explains in Kate’s point of view,
“Luke losing his job, for instance; I know that worried mat a lot more than it did Luke. Not that Luke wasn’t concerned, but ever since the day he’d decided to stay home and look after us, he seemed to have an unshakeable faith that everything would work out alright… but I think that calm certainty of his drove Matt mad and that was a major cause of the increasing friction between them” (163-164).
This quote proves how opposite Luke and Matt really are. The conflict between them always starts when Matt becomes consciously worrisome. Finally Luke seems to have a way of somehow making everything workout. For instance, Luke got a job offer to clear two acres of forestry but he turned it down because; “he’d said he was going to stay with [Bo] for a year, and he was going to stay with her for a year” (209). Now, “Luke’s irrationality paid off in the end, almost as if destiny were bending to his will” (210). He ends up accepting the job because Mrs. Stanovich generously offers to help out. “Two afternoons a week she could look after the girls, do a bit of cooking, maybe a bit of cleaning…the Lord had spoken to her and she was going to do his will” (211-212).
Matt’s traits display a very realistic person and the ability to foresee problems. To begin with, Matt’s personality causes agitation with Luke as well as helpfulness. If Matt hadn’t thought of the problems in situations, he wouldn’t have been able to help solve them. “We’ve got to do something, Luke. We’re going through Dad’s money so fast” (175). Secondly, Matt forced the reality that there was no possible way he could go to university. Luke would have been unable to take care of the girls and work at the same time. So Matt got a job at the Hudson Bay Store and enforced a routine. He quotes, “Even if we make it through this year, how are you going to manage when I leave? It’s impossible. One of us has to work and one of us has to stay home that’s the only way” (178). To end, that Matt stayed at home was a help for Kate who had a strong need to be with her brother. Kate looked up to Matt as a role model. She admired everything about him. It was hard enough on her the news of her parents death, she didn’t need him gone too. Matt became Kate’s best friend and much of what she accomplished in her future was because of Matt. She became a biologist because of all the time they spent at the ponds and Matt teaching Kate about nature. “Our visits to the ponds, which had formed such a fundamental part of my life…The interest which Matt had sparked had developed by then into a deeper curiosity …” (218). Matt’s role is huge in this novel. He affects every character in a great way.
Luke and Matt’s differences also have a major impact on their little sisters. For starters, their fights stole some of Kate and Bo’s innocence. The brothers had not learned to solve problems in a healthy manner and so the girls had witnessed multiple fights that scared them. An example of one of the fights is;
“I sat rigid, not breathing. There was a crash in the living room and they started shouting again. Bo…stood there…watching them… I looked down and saw Bo shaking so that even her hair seemed to vibrate…Her mouth wide open and tears pouring down her face but she wasn’t making any sound. She was so brave, Bo. I thought nothing could frighten her” (179-181).
Next toward the end of the novel Luke and Matt seemed to level out and learn how to resolve conflict. They had to be threatened to be separated from their sisters in order to shape up the way they were acting. They started working together to hold back their tongues when they wanted to fight back. Dr Christopherson says: “What had happened in front of [Kate and Bo] must never happen again.[He] said that as much as he would hate to do it, if he ever had any reason to suspect a repeat…he would have no choice but to contact Aunt Annie”(207).
In conclusion, the reader learns that opposite personalities eventually brought the Morrison family together. Even though it is not potent in the novel that they consciously acknowledge the fact that they are vastly and uniquely different, it is clear that they only wanted to do all they could to stay in Crow Lake with their sisters. Just like Luke quotes multiple times “something will turn up”. Indeed, something did show up every time. Luke’s laid back attitude really worked itself out in the end. Just like Matt’s ability to see things for what they really are. They finally managed to run a successful household.
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