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McCracken’s story “Secretary of State” focuses on relationships between family members.  I’m currently in a family systems theory class, and my brain seems to still be in that mindset, so throughout the reading I was categorizing the family dynamic.  The Barron’s are part of a closed family structure and they are very enmeshed.

Closed family structures tend to have rigid boundaries and set beliefs. It is almost impossible for an outsider to become part of their family system.  This is true for the Barron’s, for even their significant others are not a part of this family. As pointed out in this story, this can be a cause of dysfunction.  Enmeshed families are extremely involved in each other’s lives. They tend to have open communication and they focus more on the family instead of the individual.  One thing that I like about this story is the fact that it is psychologically accurate with the expected reactions of the family members, and the fact that this is not a normal family system.  The narrator spends the majority of the story focusing on the Barron’s family dynamic and her father, and the story doesn’t really become about her until the very end.  When she claims to be her father’s daughter, it shows how she was able to choose the relationship that she had with that family, and who she decided to get close to.

The father was another character that I also liked to watch. He didn’t have many lines, but I felt like I got a good sense of who he was. McCracken used many descriptions of daily routines in order to have the reader understand the characters.  I liked this method because it is how we naturally become close to people.

I liked that this story was in two parts because it really showed us two different scenes that were relatable. It reminded me of Stephanie Vaughn’s stories in sweet talk that are based off of the same family members.  The second part was much more intense, with a heavier conflict.  The thing that I liked about the second part was seen in the first part as well, and that was the ability to understand both  sides: the Barron’s and the Savitz’s.

The mother seemed to be more of the focus in the second half of the story, and the sacrifice that she makes for her close family was not an easy one.  I felt a sense of joy when she called her family members jerks, but once everyone started dying, I started feeling bad for her.  This conflict showed the internal struggle that many people have to face: choosing between two things that you love. McCracken really displays how there is never a choice that makes you fully happy. A person may be able to live with their choice, but they will regret parts of it.

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