One of the most cliche statements that has ever been said is “People that you are surrounded with will make a big influence on you. ” People always have a big influence on things especially other people. This connection is relevant to the characters in Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff. The main character, LaVaughn is a young teen, whose mom is always on her back about having a good future and going to college. Which is completely opposite to Jolly, who is a teen mom with two kids and is learning how to survive life with only her and her kids.
Throughout the novel, both LaVaughn and Jolly learn from each other and their differences in their lives. These challenges and experiences in life help the characters develop a new outlook on life. Family is an essential factor in shaping the characters identities in Make Lemonade through their responsibilities, values, and beliefs. The presence of children in a character’s life shapes the responsibility in their lives. First, Jolly knows that her reality is not as great as somebody would seem, it involves kids and responsibility.
Jolly is telling LaVaughn how her reality is with baby puke on her clothes and the electric company is threatening to cut their electricity which would mean that the kids would be forced to take a bath with freezing water. Jolly’s kids only have one thing in their life, which is her (Wolff 20). Jolly now has to be more responsible and take responsibilities on that she would not if she did not have kids. She has to worry about the electricity, the water, the rent, etc. Also, Jolly learns that she has to balance her responsibilities in life in order to succeed and become successful for herself and her kids.
LaVaughn is explain that whenever something goes right in Jolly’s life, there is always something that always goes in reverse “Jeremy gets the chicken pox and she stays home with him and of course what happens to her school? [… ] she misses 3 days” (121). Jolly has to learn that she has more responsibilities in her life which is school and her kids. Lastly, Jolly realizes that she needs to take responsibility and go out of her comfort zone in order to support her kids and give them the best life she can.
Jolly is now taking more initiative to find a way for her kids to have a better life “my kids one has to have glasses so I get better job then could you give me some of the money for this rent so they kick us out on the street” (148). Jolly realizes that she has more responsibilities in order to support her kids and give them the best life that they deserve, so she has to find a good job and go back to school in order to support them. These three pieces of evidence show that having children shapes the character’s responsibilities in life.
Although the presence of children shape the responsibilities of the characters, the presence of close family members in a character’s life shaping the character’s values, as well. First, Vaughn’s mom sees Jolly struggling and she doesn’t want LaVaughn to end up like her or have Jolly be a role model for LaVaughn. LaVaughn’s mom is explaining that Jolly’s situation is like “The gutter is what you call it, LaVaughn” (75). Vaughn’s mom is not proud of Jolly and her decisions that she has made in the past.
She does not want LaVaughn to think that Jolly’s life is okay in their family. Secondly, LaVaughn notices that family has a bigger meaning than just the word. LaVaughn is looking at Jeremy as her family, and out of nowhere LaVaughn biggest wish would be to have powers to help the lemon seeds start growing (76). “I wish all of a sudden most in the world, more than I wish somebody should fall in love with me, even I wish I could do magic to make the lemon plant grow” (76). She realizes that the value in life is more than just college and school. It’s about the little things.
Lastly, LaVaughn sees that there is many different things in life other than school. She sees that the things that she gets can be really hard for others. LaVaughn is at the shoe store with Jeremey and they find a pair of shoes but the “shoes cost what Jolly would pay me for 6 hours of sitting” (79). Even though those pair of shoes are expensive, LaVaughn sees that there is need for Jeremy to have new shoes and pays for them with her own money. These three reasons shows that the presence of close family members in a character’s life shapes the value in a character’s life.
As having close families in a character’s life shapes their values, similarly the presence of parents in the character’s early life shapes the character’s beliefs in life. First, Vaughn’s mom is always on LaVaughn back about certain things which makes LaVaughn worry about those things also. LaVaughn is explain how much her mom has changed, from having a little mom to “having a big Mom” (82). Her mom being a big mom, means that she is always on LaVaughn case about her future which has shaped LaVaughn to really care about her future and how to get into college.
Second, Vaughn’s mom lived with her aunts when she was growing up which impacts her beliefs about life and how to deal with it. LaVaughn is explaining that with her mom’s motto for life is picking what direction and remember that you chose what direction to take. (92). The way Vaughn’s mom beliefs life as is because her aunts that she grew up with has shaped her beliefs. Lastly, Jolly grew up with her Gram as a parent figure in her life, so she grew up watching her Gram and got taught from her Gram. Jolly is explaining to LaVaughn how her grandma “put me back together all the time.
Hugged me, preached to me, put me in bed, played double solitaire. ” Jolly’s beliefs were all shaped and impacted by her Gram and what her Gram would tell her for advice. These three pieces of evidence shows that the presence of parents in the character’s early life shapes the characters beliefs in life. Through responsibilities, values, and beliefs, the characters identities in Make Lemonade are shaped by family. Without the experiences and challenges the characters faced with their families, they wouldn’t have been able to know their true identities in their life.
The characters have learned what their responsibilities and what they are in control of. At the end of the book, the characters learn and realize what their values and beliefs are in their lives all through family. Today many people struggle to find what their real responsibilities, values, and beliefs are and may feel self-assured when reading about the characters. The characters learn that it is through family that they can learn what their life calls from them and what they think is the most important things in life.