Social Life (Unit 6)

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Unit VI. Love, Marriage and Family in the USA


1. Read and translate the text using a dictionary if necessary.

Text 1.

Nuclear Family. Extended Family.

In the Far. Middle and Near East and in parts of Africa, South America and Europe, the first thing most Western people notice is the respect everyone has for the old. Older men and women live with their married children and are important members of the family. They look after the children, help with the cooking, give advice and often rule family life. Living in an extended family has advantages for everyone. A small child, for example, knows many people from the very beginning, not just his mother and father. When his mother goes out, it doesn't matter. He'll stay with someone who loves him — an aunt or sister or grandmother. For a young mother and father there are also advantages. They can go out to work and grandmother will look after the house and the children.

This is, especially important in farming communities, where both men and women work in the fields.

And the older woman, for example, has something important to do. She sees her children and grandchildren grow up. She is needed and loved. The nuclear family is the product of the West. The typical family consists of mother, father and two children. If the mother goes out to work, she must leave them with a stranger — someone who looks after them as a job, for money. If there is a divorce or separation the child's life will change completely.

As for the old, too many older people live alone — in special flats or homes. They hardly ever see their children and grandchildren. They have nothing important to do. They are often poor and lonely. In the winter many old people die of cold or from falls in the house — because there is no one to look after them. Nobody cares.

In the USA many old people go to Florida when they retire and live in large parks. Often these parks are for old people only. Neither children nor pets can live there.

A. Ask and answer questions on the text.

B. Speak on nuclear and extended families.


2. Give the definition of these words:

a nuclear family; an extended family.


3. Answer the questions:

a)     What do most western people notice in the Ear and Middle East?

b)     Whom do older men and women lived with?

c)     Is there an advantage for everyone living in an extended family?

d)     What are these advantages for different members of the family?

e)     What family is the product of the West?

f)      What does it consist of?

g)     Do children have advantages in a nuclear family?

h)     How do old people live?

i)      Why do many retired people go to Florida?


4. Speak on nuclear and extended families in Britain and in Russia.


5. Listen and discuss.

Text 2.

Changes in the American Family

In the nineteenth century in the United States, it was not unusual the extended families of uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents live together in the same home. Then, in this century, nuclear families became popular. Only the parents and their children lived together. Recently, in the United States, many parents and children have begun living with grandparents again. Often, parents and children don't want to send their parents and grandparents to a special nursing home for older people. They think it is better to take care of the elderly person at home.

Of course, there can be problems when people of three generations live in the same house. Grandparents are often more permissive than parents, and they let children do what they want. But most American parents feel that it is better to be strict; they feel that children should follow rules. Parents think that grandparents who don't make children mind (=obey) will spoil them. Then the children won't obey anyone as they are growing up.

But having grandparents in the home can also be fun. For example, everyone enjoys the stories the older people tell and the interesting things that they can teach the other family members. Americans are learning that having elderly people in the home can be a wonderful experience.


A. Ask and answer questions on the text.

B. Speak on the changes in the American family.

C. Speak on the advantages and disadvantages of living with parents and grandparents.

D. Do you think these statements about family life are true or false? Decide in pairs, then compare your answers with other pairs.

1. Old people should live with their children.

2. Old people should live in special places (nursing homes) with other old people.

3. Everyone can learn a lot from older people.

4. Young couples must live away from their parents.


6. Home life feels the stress of social changes. New aspects of family life in the USA are caused by mobility, women's new position in society and changes in attitude towards divorce. The following text uses three terms to describe different types of families. Look through the text to find the definitions and write them:

extended family...

nuclear family...

blended family...


Text 3.


The American family unit is in the process of change. There used to be mainly two types of families: the extended and the nuclear. The extended family most often included mother, father, children, and some other relatives, such as grandparents, living in the same house or nearby. Then as job patterns changed and the economy progressed from agricultural to industrial, people were forced to move to different parts of the country for job opportunities. These moves split up the extended family. The nuclear family became more prevalent; this consisted of only the parents and the children.

In the American family the husband and wife usually share important decision making. When the children are old enough, they participate as well. Foreign observers are frequently amazed by the permissiveness of American parents.  The old rule that "children should be seen and not heard" is rarely followed, and children are often allowed to do what they wish without strict parental control. The father seldom expects his children to obey him without question, and children are encouraged to be independent at an early age. Some people believe that American parents carry this freedom too far. Young people are expected to break away from their parental families by the time they have reached their late teens or early twenties.

Now, besides these two types of traditional groupings, the word "family" is being extended to include a variety of other living arrangements. Today's family can be made up of diverse combinations. With the divorce rate nearly one in two, there is an increase in single-parent homes: a father or mother living with one or more children. Blended families occur when previously married men and women marry again and combine the children from former marriages into a new family. On the other hand, some couples are deciding not to have any children at all, so there is an increase in two-person childless families. There are also more people who live alone: single, widowed, divorced. Now, one in five Americans lives alone.


a) Answer the questions:

  •       Why were people forced to move to different parts of the country?

  •       Did these moves split up the extended family?

  •       Who usually shares important decision making?

  •       Do you believe that American parents carry freedom too far?

  •       Are you for or against the permissiveness of American parents?

  •       Today’s family can be made up of diverse combinations, can’t it?

  •       When do blended families occur?


b) Recalling information

• Choose the correct word to complete the following sentences.

1. The typical American family of the past used to include grandparents or other relatives who were living with the parents and children; this was called the (extended/nuclear/blended) family.

2. With the industrialization of American society, the (extended/nuclear/blended) family became more common.

3. Foreigners are often amazed by the (strictness/permissiveness/rudeness) of American parents.

4. At present, nearly one out of every (two/three/four) marriages in the US ends in divorce.

5. A family composed of parents with children from previous marriages is called a (extended/nuclear/blended) family.

6. Nowadays, there is an (increase/decrease) in the number of childless marriages.

• Look through the definitions of different types of families and say which type your family belongs to.


c) It is interesting to know


The American family has changed greatly in. the last 20 or 30 years. Many of these changes are similar to changes taking place in other countries.

Marriage and Children

Young people are waiting longer before getting married. Women are also waiting longer to have children. It's not unusual today for a woman to have her first child in her mid-thirties. And families are having fewer children. The typical family used to have three children. Today most families have one or two children.

Dual-Earning Families

In the traditional family, the wife stayed home with the children while the husband earned money. Now 60 percent of all married women work outside the home. So a majority of couples have two wage-earners. One reason for this change is that women want and expect to have careers. Another reason is economics. With rising prices, many families cannot survive on one person's salary.


d) Answer the questions:

  •       What makes a family typical or unique?

  •       Would you feel happier in a large or in a small family? Why?

  •       How does a single-parent family influence children’s achievements?





1. Read the text and give a summary of it, using vocabulary of the unit.

Text 4.

The American Family (Part I)

Most American families consist of a mother, a father, and three or four children living at home. There may be relatives — grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and in-laws in the same community, but American families usually maintain separate households. This familial structure is knows as the "nuclear family." It is unusual for members of the family other than the husband, wife, and children to live together. Occasionally an aging grandparent may live with the family, but this arrangement is usually not considered desirable. Although the nuclear family unit is economically independent of the rest of the family, members of the whole family group often maintain close kinship ties. Visiting between parents and their married children and between married sisters and brothers is frequent when they live close to each other. If they live in different communities, they keep in touch by writing letters and by telephone.  In the American family the husband and wife usually share important decision making. When the children are old enough, they participate as well. Foreign observers are frequently amazed by the permissiveness of American parents. The old rule that "children should be seen and not heard" is rarely followed, and children are often allowed to do what they wish without strict parental control. The father seldom expects his children to obey him without question, and children are encouraged to be independent at an early age. Some people believe that American parents carry this freedom too far. Young people are expected to break away from their parental families by the time they have reached their late teens or early twenties. Indeed, not to do so is often regarded as a failure, a kind of weak dependence.

This pattern of independence often results in serious problems for the aging parents of a nuclear family. The job-retirement age is usually 65. The children have left home, married, and set up their own households. Elderly couples feel useless and lonely with neither an occupation nor a close family group. Many communities and church groups sponsor social centers for "senior citizens." At these centers older men and women can make friends and participate in a variety of planned activities, including games, trips, lectures, and discussion groups. These programs may help some old people, but they do not provide the complete solution to the problems of old age.


2. Compare the British family and the American family. Do they have something in common?


3. Render in English:

a)      Некоторых мужчин лучше избегать, если вы хотите выйти замуж. Психологи выделяют шесть типов закоренелых холостяков.

b)      I тип – жажда свободы

II тип – страх осложнений

III тип – поиск идеала

IV тип – культ самостоятельности

V тип – под маминым крылом

VI тип – сказка об охотнике

c)      Итак, если вы хотите выйти замуж, а ваш партнер говорит что-то (смотри типы), спросите его прямо: готов ли он жениться? Если он вместо ответа продолжит рассуждения – бегите от него.


4. Work in groups. Discuss which of the following statements you agree with, and which statements you disagree with:

  •       You should always ask your parents for permission to marry.

  •       It’s reasonable for young people to live together for some time before getting married.

  •       Parents should be involved in matchmaking for their children.

  •       The members of a family should live in the same area so that it is easy for them to visit each other.

  •       Children should only leave home after they are married.

  •       Old people should be encouraged to stay in old people’s homes rather than with the family.

  •       Family life is less important in the modern world than it was in the past.


5. Comment on the following:

“Home is the girl’s prison and the woman’s workhouse”

(G.B. Shaw)




I. Read the text and memorize as many details as possible.

Text 5.

The American Family (Part II)

The American family is a nuclear family consisting usually of a husband, wife, and children who live in their own house or apartment. Grandparents rarely live in the same home with their married sons and daughters, and uncles and aunts almost never do. Americans have fewer children than in many other cultures. The typical American couple has two children, so that the average American family has four people living together as a household unit. A great value is placed on each child’s having a room of his or her own.

Marriages are not “arranged” in the U.S. Young people are expected to find a husband or wife on their own; their parents do not help them. In fact, parents are often not told of marriage plans until the couple has decided to marry. This means that parents have little control, and generally not much influence, over whom their children marry.

Americans believe that young people should fall in love and then decide to marry someone they can live happily with.

Of course, in reality this does not always happen, but it remains the ideal of marriage among young Americans.

The majority of American women value companionship as the most important part of marriage. Other values, such as having economic support and the opportunity to have children, although important, are seen as less important.

If the couple is not happy, they may choose to get a divorce. A divorce is relatively easy to obtain in most parts of the United States. Some states have "no-fault" divorce. To obtain a "no-fault" divorce, a couple states that they can no longer live happily together and that it is neither partner's fault.

The divorce rate has risen rapidly in the United States over the last twenty years. Approximately one out of every three marriages ends in divorce, and the numbers are rising. Americans believe that unhappy couples should not stay married for the sake of the children, they do not want to sacrifice individual happiness for the sake of the children.

The current generation thinks that unhappy marriages do not contribute to the happiness of the children.

According to the American sociologists, the institution of marriage in the USA has had four stages of development:

Stage I: Wife as Servant to Husband

Stage II: Husband - Head, Wife – Helper

Stage III: Husband - Senior Partner, Wife - Junior Partner

Stage IV: Husband - Wife - Equal Partners

In the USA today most marriages are either the husband-head or the husband-senior partner type, but the latter is becoming more typical as more and more wives take jobs outside the home.

More and more American women come to believe that they should be equal partners rather than junior partners in their marriages.

Accordingly, stage IV, although not typical of most American marriages at present will grow most rapidly in the future.

Americans are strongly attached to the idea of the family as the best of all life styles. Families are seen by many Americans as places where one can find refuge from the highly competitive world outside.

II. Answer the questions about the details:

1) How many children has the typical American couple?

a)    two children;

b)    one child;

c)    five children.

2) How do the Americans usually get married?

a)    marriages are "arranged" in the US;

b)    marriages are not "arranged" in the US.

3) What do the majority of American women value as the most important part of marriage?

a)    economic support;

b)    opportunity to have children;

c)    companionship.


III. Find English equivalents to Russian ones:

семья только из родителей и детей, супружеская пара, самостоятельно, влиять на что-то, материальная поддержка, развод без вины партнеров, жертвовать личным счастьем, стиль жизни, конкурирующий мир, институт брака.


IV. Translate the words and word combinations into Russian:

average American family, household unit, have influence over smth., economic support, obtain divorce, divorce rate, sociologist, find refuge, come to believe, current generation.


V. Points to render and ponder.


The family is the most basic and ancient of all institutions, and it remains the fundamental social unit in every society. Yet there are many people today who predict the end of the family system as we know it. The family, it is contended, is breaking down, the victim of moral decay, sexual permissiveness, changing gender roles, or irresistible social forces.

Such predictions are heard in all industrialized societies, but the statistics suggest that the family system of the world's leading post-industrial society, the United States, is under the most pressure. The great majority of both American men and women begin sexual activity before marriage. One in every five American births is to an unmarried mother, usually a teenager. One in every four pregnancies ends in abortion. The number of unmarried couples living together has tripled in less than two decades. Americans are staying single longer than ever, and more than one adult in five now lives alone. About half of American marriages are expected to end in divorce. New alternatives to traditional marriage, such as the single-parent household, are becoming steadily more common...

What exactly is a family? Our ideas on the subject may tend to be ethnocentric, for they are often based on the middle-class "ideal" family so relentlessly portrayed in TV commercials, one that consists of a husband, a wife, and their dependent children. This particular family pattern, however, is far from typical. A more accurate conception of the family must take account of the many different family forms that have existed or still exist both in America and in other cultures.

What characteristics, then, are common to all family forms? First, the family consists of a group of people who are in some way related to one another. Second, its members live together for long periods. Third, the adults in the group assume responsibility for any offspring. And forth, the members of the family form an economic unit — often for producing goods and services (as when all members share agricultural tasks) and always for consuming goods and services (such as food or housing). We may say, then, that the family is a relatively permanent group of people related by ancestry, marriage, or adoption, who live together, form an economic unit, and take care of their young. If this definition seems a little cumbersome, it is only because it has to include such a great variety of family forms.


a) Translate the abstract and give your own understanding of the word “family”

There is no definition of a "normal" family. Broadly speaking, the family is a group of people related by blood or law, living together or associating with one another for a common purpose. That purpose is usually to provide shelter arid food, and to bring up children. The nature of the family keeps changing: there are a number of types of family that exist in a society at any one time.


b) Exercises:

Ex. 1. Find

a) synonyms to:

to get along, certainly, lasting, present, to show, shortage, to foresee, pair, grown-up, precise, constant, concern, ordinary, to connect, matrimony, to appear, to stay, to take into consideration, to take upon oneself, to commence, to accuse, alienated;

b) antonyms to:

to deprive, disregard, to put together, to increase, refusal, minority, to flourish, the beginning, married, more, marriage, child, abundance, beyond, temporary.

Ex. 2. Choose the proper word:

a) to make to do

1. She ... the best of her charms to marry him. 2. It doesn't ... any sense. 3. He ... well at present. 4. I like the way she ... her hair. 5. He was a young writer and could hardly ... both ends meet. 6. He knew it was not the right way to ... his living. His marriage ... things worse. His wife tried to ... her best by ... her share of work about the house, but her efforts didn't seem to ... their marriage any good. 7. Nothing could ... her ... what she didn't want to. 8. "That won't ... !" he exclaimed. 9. Two and two ... four. 10. "I don't want him to have anything to ... with my daughter. He is no match for her," mother thought. 11. It's very important to ... a very good first impression on the parents and relatives.


c) Pints to ponder:

Give the Russian equivalents for the following English proverbs (or translate them into Russian):

1.  A good husband makes a good wife.

2.  Marry in haste and repent at leisure.

3.  Blood is thicker than water.


Explain in English the meaning of each proverb.


Make up a dialogue to illustrate one of the proverbs.


d) Study the vocabulary and make up your sentences with new words

Family Life

Topical Vocabulary

1. Family, folks, household, tribe, clan, descent (to be of some descent), descendant, ancestor, forefather, heredity, hereditary, sibling, paternal, maternal, next of kin, nearest and dearest, one's own flesh and blood, in-laws.

2. To date smb, to be smb's date, to go out with smb. to court smb. boyfriend, girlfriend, bridegroom, bride, fiancée, best man, bridesmaid, newlyweds, marriage knot, marriage of convenience, single,   spouse,   divorced,   divorcee,   separated,   bachelor, spinster, old maid.

3. To bring up a child, to raise a child, to adopt a child, to foster, a foster child/brother, step-mother/father, half-brother/sister, a single parent.

4. Household chores: to do the chores, to do the laundry, to wash dishes and pots, to wash up, to cook meals, to do the shopping, a shopping list, to vacuum a room, to polish furniture, to redecorate a room (with new wallpaper).

5. Equality and prejudice: to consider smb inferior/superior or as an equal; to enjoy equal prospects and opportunity; equality of opportunity; conventional/unconventional attitudes/beliefs; acceptable/unacceptable patterns/modes of behaviour; to be prejudiced against smb; to discriminate against; sexual discrimination; to be faithful; to commit adultery.

6. Reactions: amazement, surprise, astonishment, horror, misery, disappointment, to be appalled, to be astounded, to be disgusted; ecstatic, overjoyed, thrilled; to be put out, to be offended, to hurt someone's feelings; furious, speechless with anger; to be taken aback; to be upset, to be dismayed, to be disheartened, moving, touching; to feel crushed, horror-stricken.


e) Make up a story:


f) Make a summary

The Politics of Housework

It seemed perfectly reasonable. We both had careers, both had to work a couple of days a week to earn enough to live on, so why shouldn't we share the housework? So, I suggested it to my mate and he agreed. You're right, he said. It's only fair.

Then an interesting thing happened. I can only explain it by stating that we women have been brainwashed more than even we can imagine. Probably too many years of seeing television women in ecstasy over shiny waxed floors or breaking down over their dirty shirt collars. Men have no such conditioning. They recognize the essential fact of housework right from the very beginning. Which is that it stinks.

Here's my list of dirty chores: buying groceries, carting them home and putting them away; cooking meals and washing dishes and pots; doing the laundry; digging out the place when things get out of control; washing floors. The list could go on but the sheer necessities are bad enough. All of us have to do these things, or get someone else to do them for us.


g) Work in pairs. Make up dialogues where one of the students is facing some problem in his/her family. The other one should give him/her some advice.

  •       The wife complains that her husband does not pay enough attention to the children.

  •       The husband thinks the seventeen-year-old daughter is too young to go out on dates. The wife disagrees.

  •       The wife has a full-time job and is angry because the husband does not help around the house.

  •        The husband complains about his wife’s mother interfering in.


h) Speak on the topic “Our Family’s Traditions and Customs”


i) Write down an essay on the topic “The Politics of Housework in your Family”




Text I

Marriage in the United States

Americans have one of the highest marriage rates among the industrial nations. Other countries with high marriage rates are Russia, Egypt, and Japan. This has always been so. More than 90 percent of the members of every birth cohort since the early 1800s have eventually married.

Yet the marriage rate has undergone great fluctuations in the past forty years. This is reflected mainly in the behavior of people between the age of 20 and 24. The percentage of men and women in this age group who have never married started to fall at the beginning of World War II and reached a low point by the end of the 1960s. At that time the median age at first marriage was 22.5 for men and 20.2 for women. Thereafter the percentage rose steadily for twenty years, so that by 1984 more than half of the women in the United States between the ages of 20 and 24 had never been married.

Paul Glick and Arthur Norton offer several reasons for this trend. During the Vietnam War many young men postponed marriage in order to enter service or to avoid military service by continuing their education. Women tended to stay in school and then work to support themselves. Moreover, during the late 1960s and early 1970s the children born during the post-World War II baby boom came of age and competed for jobs. Because many people prefer to postpone marriage until they can get a job and afford to set up a household and raise a family, the tight job market resulted in a lower marriage rate.


Assignment: Read the text and discuss the following questions: 1. Why do you think marriage rates differ in different countries? 2. What are the reasons for the change of marriage rate in the USA? 3. Do you think it's right to postpone marriage until you can get a job and support your family? 4. What are the most important considerations for our youth when they enter marriage?


Vocabulary Practice


1. Read and translate the text.

2. Find in the text the English equivalents to the following:

брак, показатель, каждый десятый, неустойчивость, отражать, поведение, процент, в возрастной группе, падать, предлагать, откладывать, поддерживать, поднимать семью, домашние дела.


3. Give the definition if the following words:

marriage, family, support, household, postpone.


Speech Exercises


4. Translate the text without a dictionary and do points A, B and C, given below.

Text II

Marriage in the United States

Many single people in the United States have trouble finding a marriage partner. In the past, sometimes friends would help by becoming matchmakers. They would introduce a man and woman, and sometimes the man and woman would fall in love and get married. But today, many people pay companies called dating services to help them find partners. And even if the dating service does not always find them someone to marry, it at least finds them someone to date.

Getting married has changed in some ways. In the past, the man proposed to the woman. But now sometimes the woman asks the man to marry her. After the couple decides to marry, the man gives the woman a ring. She wears it on her left hand to show that they are engaged. Sometimes the man and woman elope. When they run away and get married privately, their parents are often disappointed because they wanted their children to have a big wedding.

When they are married, both newlyweds often work because they need two paychecks to pay their bills. But sometimes they still have money problems. And sometimes the parents find that they just aren't compatible. So, for many people, marriage ends in divorce. Yet, some people stay together long enough to celebrate their fiftieth or seventy-fifth wedding anniversary.

A.        Ask and answer questions on the text.

B.         Speak about marriage in the United States.

C.        1. Do people become engaged in your country? 2. Do you give rings in your country? 3. Have you got dating services in your country? 4. Do many marriages end in divorce in your country? 5. Do many women work after marriage?


5. Comment on the following quotations:

a)      Accidents occur in the best regulated families” (Ch. Dickens)

b)      Being asked whether it was better to marry or not, Diogenes replied, “Whichever you do, you will repent it”.

c)      Marriage is popular, because it combines the maximum of temptation with the maximum of opportunity (G.B. Shaw)

d)      Marriages are made in heaven


6. Make up a dialogue, illustrating the English proverbs:

  •   Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

  •   Every family has a skeleton in the cupboard.

  •   Men make houses, women make homes.

  •   It’s a sad house where the hen crows louder than the cock.


7. Do library research and prepare an essay on one of the following topics:

  •   Major problems young couples face.

  •   The impact of social changes in modern society on family life.




Text III

Focus on Family Problems

Breakfast in the Jenssen home was not much different from breakfast in a couple of hundred thousand homes in the Greater City. Walter Jenssen had his paper propped up against the vinegar cruet and the sugar bowl.

He read expertly, not even taking his eyes off the printed page when he raised his coffee cup to his mouth.

"Holly, hell!" exclaimed Walter Jenssen. He slammed down his coffee cup, splashing the contents on the tablecloth.

"Just take a look at this. Take a look at it!" He handed her the paper as though he were stabbing her with it.

She took the paper. Her eyes roved about the page and stopped. "Oh, that? Well, I'd like to know what's wrong with that."

Walter said, "Gimme back that paper."

"You can have it," said Elsie. "Go ahead, read it till you get a stroke."

Walter began to read aloud. "Is your husband as attentive to you now that you are married as when he was courting you? Answer: Mrs. Elsie Jenssen, West 174th Street, housewife: Yes, in fact more so. Before we were married my husband was not exactly what would be called the romantic type. He was definitely shy. However, since our marriage he has become the ideal man from the romantic point of view.

"Well, so what?" said Elsie. "So what? What the hell kind of a thing is that you're putting in the paper? Go around blabbing private matters. How do you think a person's going to have self-respect if you go running around and shooting off your face to newspaper reporters?"

"I didn't go around anywhere. He stopped me." "Who stopped you?" "The reporter. On Columbus Circle. I was just coming around the corner and he came up and tipped his hat like a gentleman and asked me. It says so there."

Walter wasn't listening. "The office," he said. "Oh, God! What they're going to do to me at that office. They probably read it already. And the boss'll find out. What happens to the public confidence if..."

"It doesn't say a word about you. It says Elsie Jenssen. It doesn't say where you work or anything else. Well, it could be another one."

"Not living on 174th Street. I'm not going to that office today. You call up and tell them I have a cold."

"You big baby. If you want to stay home, call them up yourself," said Elsie.

"I said you call them up. I'm not going to that office."

"You go to the office or I'll - who do you think you are, anyway? The time you had this year. Your uncle's funeral and your brother's wedding. Go ahead, take the day off, take the week off. Just quit your job and I'll support you while you sit here, you big baboon." She put down the dishes and put her apron to her eyes and ran out of the room.

Walter took out a cigarette and put it in his mouth but did not light it. He picked the paper off the floor and began to read. First he re-read his wife's interview, and then for the first time he read the other interviews. The first, a laughing Mrs. Bloomberg, said her husband was so tired when he came home nights that as far as she was concerned romance was only a word in the dictionary. Mrs. Petrucelli said she hadn't noticed any difference between her husband's premarital and present attentiveness. Elsie was the prettiest. He read the interviews once more, and he reluctantly admitted that - well, if you had to give an interview, Elsie's was the best. Mrs, Bloomberg's was worst. He began to feel pretty good about it. He put on his coat and hat and overcoat and then he went to the bedroom. Elsie was lying there, her face deep in the pillow, sobbing.

"Well, I guess I'll go to the office now," he said.

She stopped sobbing. "What?" she said, but did not let him see her face.

"Going downtown now." he said.

"What if they start kidding you?"

"Well, what if they do?" he said.

She sat up. "Are you cross with me any more?" she said.

"Nah, what the hell?" he said.

She smiled and got up and put her arm around his waist and walked down the hall with him to the door. He opened the door and set his hat on his head. She kissed his cheek and his mouth. He rearranged his hat again.

"Well," he said. "See you tonight." It was the first thing that came into his head. He hadn't said that in years.

(After The Ideal Man by J.O'Hara)


Activity I

Here are some headlines suggested for the story. Discuss them and give their Russian equivalents. Which one, if any, do you like best. Give grounds for your choice.

1.  When one is fond of making a mountain out of a molehill.

2.  One heart bleeding, the other unheeding.

3.  One man's sore is another man's bore.

4.  French leave.

5.  Accidents will happen in the best regulated families.


Activity II

Look at the following sayings and say if the ideas are true in the above-described case.

1.                    A trouble's a ton, or a trouble is an ounce,

                       Or a trouble is what you make it,

And it isn't the fact that you are hurt that counts.

But only how did you take it.

E. Footler

2. There is always a risk of making bad worse with words, however carefully chosen.

3. Our near ones never appreciate anything in us. We have to go to others for that!

4. Habits are at first cobwebs, at last, cables.


Activity III

Look at the picture and say whether it deals with a similar situation. Is it different in details? In plot?


I was sure you'd like the soup, hubby, dear!




Text IV

A Talk About Matrimony (Part I)

1. Discuss the problems raised in the dialogue and do the activities.

Grandmother: You must do one thing or the other. You must either ask Sally to be your wife, or you must take yourself off out of her way. You must know that you are an extremely attractive man, you must know that she loves you, and to be perpetually with her as you are, draining her sympathy, and giving nothing whatever in return, is so cowardly and so selfish that I cannot reconcile the man that you are now with the man I have hitherto known. I do not know what has come over you, David; I simply do not know.

David: Grandmother, why should you think that Sally loves me? Has she told you so?

Grandmother: Don't be ridiculous, David! Of course not She'd sooner die than tell me, or anyone. She has a fine reticence; never would that girl willingly allow a trouble of her own to make things uncomfortable for other people. But, though I am an old woman, I thank God that I still retain the use of my eyesight and my mental faculties. The young - and Sally is very young - are never as skilful at hiding what is happening to them as they think they are. Now, don't prevaricate, David. Can you sit here and tell me that you do not know that Sally loves you?

David: No, Grandmother, I don't sit here and tell you anything of the sort. I didn't know for some while, and then I suddenly did know. But I knew, too, that not to be loved in return would do her no harm. She's too fine a creature to let frustration embitter her.

Grandmother: Really, David, you are an extremely hard man. 1 do not know when I have heard a more cynical or arrogant remark. Is it your habit nowadays to go through life inflicting pain on others and then rejoicing in the excellent effect it will have upon their characters? Has this dreadful war made a sadist of you?

David: That had been one of the questions that had been haunting me all through those years.... Shall I get used to this killing? Shall I get accustomed to inflicting agony? Shall I, at last, think nothing of it?...

Grandmother: How you can not want to marry Sally I am unable to understand!

David: I do want to marry her, Grandmother. With all my heart and soul I want to marry her.

Grandmother: Then, David, my darling, why in the name of common-sense and love and mercy can't you? David, mind what you're doing with that wretched trolley!

David (callously): OK. Nothing to smash.

Grandmother: I dislike American colloquialisms about as much as I dislike trolleys. But neither as much as I dislike criminal stupidity.

David: Grandmother, is it criminal stupidity to look at this from the viewpoint of Sally's eventual happiness? Can I make her happy? Much older than she is. Not particularly healthy. In a rotten state of nerves. Worst of all, not really in love with her. Have 1 any hope of making her happy? I'm too scared to try. I've lost my nerve for... nearly everything.

Grandmother: How can you say you're not in love with her when you want, so you say, with all your heart and soul to marry her?

David: I don't feel about her as I have, in the past, about... other women.

Grandmother: One woman, Nadine. David, do you still feel yourself bound in spirit to Nadine?

David: No! She's - pretty effectually - cut me right out.

Grandmother (in sudden penitence): Darling, I don't think it was quite fair of me to say that you drained Sally. I'm sure you did not mean to do that.

David: No, I did not mean to do it; but I see now that I did it.


I. Reproduce the dialogue in class.

II. Discuss the following points:

1) Whether the grandmother was right concerning David's relations with Sally. 2) Whether it is right or wrong that young people are not skilful at hiding what is happening to them. 3) Whether David's reasons for not marrying Sally were right or wrong. 4) The ways war may affect the nature of people. 5) The factors that are likely to make a marriage a success.


2. Discuss the problems raised in the dialogue and do the activities.

A Talk About Matrimony (Part II)

Grandmother: We must get things clear, David. You think you don't love Sally because you do not feel for her the passion you felt for Nadine. You'll never feel that again. Nature knows what she's doing, and she does not allow us to be torn by passions we've not the strength for. You're too old and tired for that sort of thing.

David: There, you've put it in a nutshell, Grandmother. Sally isn't. She's young and ardent.

Grandmother: Not in the way you mean. Don't you know anything, about women? Don't you know the difference between a woman like Nadine and a woman like Sally? Nadine - she can't help it, poor dear - was born a hungry, unsatisfied woman. Her perpetual search after perfection is a lovely thing in her; because of it her home and her person will never be less than exquisite; but it makes all the normal relationships disappoint her by their imperfection, so that she looks beyond them for happiness. At least she did until now. Sally - and she couldn't help it either - was born the other way round. She does not demand gifts of life, she just loves it for itself, and her humility makes her feel that what she is given is always far too much. She'll feel exactly the same about you as she does about life. You won't disappoint her.

David: I'd give my right hand to be sure of that.

Grandmother: There's no need to do anything so dramatic, dear. All you've got to do is to rely on my judgement.

David: Grandmother, I believe you think that if the whole world relied on your judgement the millennium would come.

Grandmother: So it would. I'm not eighty five for nothing. This modern craze for putting the young in positions of authority - headmasters in their thirties, bishops without a grey hair on their heads, generals who scarcely need to use a razor - ever since it took hold the world's gone steadily downhill. But we're wandering from the point, dear. To return to Sally. She's a born mother. You want children, don't you?

David: With my heart and body - far more desperately than I can tell you. With my mind - no. What sort of world is this to bring them into? That's another consideration that's holding me back.

Grandmother: A very cowardly consideration, dear. A mere shirking of responsibility. It's a heavy responsibility, of course, a double one - responsibility for the chidden themselves and responsibility for the world they must live in. But I know of no better incentive for the building of a decent world than the possession of children who must live in the world you've built.


I. Discuss the grandmother's viewpoint on:

1) Nature's wisdom concerning our passions. 2) The two different types of women she speaks of. Find illustrations of each of these types in Russian and English fiction. 3) Putting the young in positions of authority. 4) Children in a family and their parents' double responsibility.

II. Act the dialogue in class with prompting done in Russian.


3. Group discussion. "What are the changes in family life?"

Sociologists say that the relationship between men and women is changing rapidly nowadays. Dating customs are changing. More women are working. Family life is changing. Men are helping more in the home. At the same time, the divorce rate is rising. More and more single parents are raising children nowadays. Discuss the following: What changes are taking place in family life? What are your predictions for the future? What changes in behaviour will become acceptable the future? Will more women work? Will divorce become more common? Will the size of the average family change? What things won't change?




Text V

Family trees - or bushes?

Pre-reading discussion

Discuss the following with a partner:

1. Have you ever drawn a family tree? How many generations of your family do you know about?

2. Have you ever had a problem working out exactly how some family member is related to you (for example, your cousin's son)?

3. How could divorce complicate family trees?


Read the text using a dictionary


The family that stretches (together)

by Ellen Goodman

(1)   CASCO BAY, Maine —The girl is spending the summer with her extended family. She doesn't put it this way. But as we talk on the beach, the ten-year-old lists the people who are sharing the same house this month with the careful attention of a genealogist.

(2)   First of all there is her father — visitation rights awarded him the month of August. Second of all there is her father's second wife and two children by her first marriage. All that seems perfectly clear. A stepmother and two step-brothers.

(3)   Then there are the others, she slowly explains. There is her stepmother's sister for example. The girl isn't entirely sure whether this makes the woman a step-aunt, or whether her baby is a step-cousin. Beyond that, the real puzzle is whether her step-aunt's husband's children by his first marriage have any sort of official relationship to her at all. It does, we both agree, seem a bit fuzzy.

(4)   Nevertheless, she concludes, with a certainty that can only be mustered by the sort of ten-year-old who keeps track of her own Frequent Flyer coupons, 'We are in the same family.' With that she closes the subject and focuses instead on her peanut butter and jelly.

(5)   I am left to my thoughts. My companion, in her own unselfconscious way, is a fine researcher. She grasps the wide new family configurations that are neglected by census data takers and social scientists.

(6)   After all, those of us who grew up in traditional settings remember families which extended into elaborate circles of aunts, uncles, and cousins. There were sides to this family, names and titles to be memorized. But they fit together in a biological pattern.

(7)   Now, as my young friend can attest, we have fewer children and more divorces. We know that as many as 50 percent of recent marriages may end. About 75 percent of divorced women and 83 percent of divorced men then remarry. Of those remarriages, 59 percent include a child from a former marriage.

(8)   So, our families often extend along lines that are determined by decrees, rather than genes. If the nucleus is broken, there are still links forged in different directions.

(9)   The son of a friend was asked to produce a family tree for his sixth-grade class. But he was dissatisfied with his oak. There was no room on it for his step-grandfather, though the man had married his widowed grandmother years ago.

(10) More to the point, the boy had to create an offshoot for his new baby half-brother that seemed too distant. He couldn't find a proper place for the uncle—the ex-uncle to be precise—whom he visited last summer with his cousin.

(11) A family tree just doesn't work, he complained. He would have preferred to draw family bushes.

(12) The reality is that divorce has created kinship ties that rival the most complex tribe. These are not always easy relationships. The children and even the adults whose family lives have been disrupted by divorce and remarriage learn that people they love do not necessarily love each other. This extended family does not gather for reunions and Thanksgivings.

(13) But when it works, it can provide a support system of sorts. I have seen the nieces, nephews—even the dogs—of one marriage welcomed as guests into another. There are all sorts of relationships that survive the marital ones, though there are no names for these kinsfolk, no nomenclature for this extending family.

(14) Not long ago, when living together first became a common pattern, people couldn't figure out what to call each other. It was impossible to introduce the man you lived with as a 'spouse equivalent.' It was harder to refer to the woman your son lived with as his lover, mistress, housemate.

(15) It's equally difficult to describe the peculiar membership of this new lineage. Does your first husband's mother become a mother-out-law? Is the woman no longer married to your uncle an ex-aunt? We have nieces and nephews left dangling like participles from other lives and step-families entirely off the family tree.

(16) Our reality is more flexible and our relationships more supportive than our language. But for the moment, my ten-year-old researcher is right. However accidentally, however uneasily, 'We are in the same family'

August 1983

Ellen Goodman is a columnist who writes for many major U.S. newspapers. This essay first appeared in The Washington Post.


Vocabulary Practice


1. Study the words and make up sentences with them:

genealogist: a person who studies family trees

visitation rights: her father no longer lives with her, but has the right to visit.

kinship ties: family relationships

tribe: community in pre-industrial society

Thanksgiving: family-oriented holiday in USA

decrees: legal decisions (NB a 'decree absolute' finalises a divorce)

links: connections forged: made

oak: type of tree

offshoot: a small branch

nomenclature: system of names

spouse: husband or wife

lineage: line of family relations

dangling: hanging

mustered: summoned up, demonstrated

configurations: arrangements

census: a government count of the population and its living arrangements.

data-takers: people who collect information

attest: give evidence


Speech Exercises


1. Read and translate the following letter:

Dear Jean,

Do you think you could bring yourself to ask your mother-in-law to leave? (Maybe explaining that now the children are growing up they need more space.)

If you think that the old lady would then be too lonely don't you think it would be a good idea at least to ask somebody, probably some of your husband's relatives, to invite her for a couple of weeks. It would somehow release tension in your family and entertain the old lady. I realize it's much easier to give advice than really tackle the problem, but if I were you I'd think of some regular house chores that would keep her busy. And, Jean, why don't you try to show now and then that you appreciate her help. However it is very important for your mother-in-law to feel that she is needed in the house, but let her know that the children are your responsibility. Your husband will no doubt be grateful for your effort and things will turn out for the best I hope.


Turn the above situation into a dialogue and act it out.


2. Make up dialogues using these situations:

1. A twenty-year-old girl who has married a man of thirty. He works too hard and comes home very tired and bad-tempered.

2. A twenty-five-year-old girl, a university graduate. She has met a man who is impatient to marry her, but she wants to finish a year's post-graduate study first.

3. A thirty-five-year-old man whose wife is a business-woman with a very successful career. She frequently comes home from work very late because she has meetings.


3. Group work. Split into two groups of four to six students:

1.  One of the groups has to prepare the role of the interviewers and write down questions each interviewer could ask the members of the "ideal family". The other group represents an "ideal family"; they should allocate the different roles within the group and talk about the personalities, ways of behaviour and ideas of the people in their family and give advice to other families.

2.  The "ideal family" is interviewed by a different interviewer in turn in front of the class. At the beginning each member of the family introduces either himself or another family member.

3.  Since a lot of the students' values and ideals regarding families will have become obvious, they should discuss them afterwards.


4. Points to Ponder

The Power of Blood

I hate them! They are a real disaster! They come without an invitation, break into your world, turn everything upside down, and finally ruin your life. And such accidents happen several times a year. Guess who they are?! They are your relatives! Distant or close, they are sure they have a right to behave like that. Their assurance lies in two words - "Blood Relationship". Yes, they believe in the power of blood. No matter if you've seen each other only once or twice - you are of the same blood, the same kind; you are relatives, you are "The Family!"

Sometimes they have a habit of coming like a bolt from the blue, but more often they gather on Special Occasions, family holidays in other words. The most popular occasions are weddings, funerals, or anyone's birthday, especially an anniversary. I'll omit funerals for it's a sad basis for meetings. Let's talk about birthdays. So, this "field day" has come. You wake up happy. You love the entire world today. And suddenly you hear the doorbell ringing. You get up wondering who the hell it is. You open the door and your heart sinks. Here they are! Your beloved relatives! You didn't invite them. But they don't care. They do remember all the dates! They always stay in your apartment. And being hospitable, you cede your room and bed. They do not object.

During the day they torment you with a thousand questions about your school, friends, boy/girlfriends and plans for the future. They always ask about such intimate things that even your parents don't dare to inquire about. In the evening they gather round the table to have a party. They usually take strong drinks and soon get absolutely drunk. Between taking drinks and food they recall "funny stories" from your childhood, whereas you recall the ruined plans for this evening. If you come with your "significant other" (poor thing!!!) they tell him or her how funny you were running bare-bottomed in the house of your aunt in Kukuevo and other peculiarities that makes you blush. Finally they end the spoiled party with their faces in the salad or snoring on your bed.

A wedding is the most "awful" event. Weddings do not occur as often as birthdays. This means that all the "available" relatives come. Neither weather, nor age, nor illnesses can stop them from congratulating you! But this is not the main and most important reason for their appearance. They're burning with the desire to see "the other side" - his/her relations. The wedding is the holiday when the two Clans meet, and is as important as the battle of Waterloo. Relax! It's not your feast - it's theirs. They study each other like cattle traders to make the Decision whether to erase you from their memory, or to celebrate new family ties. They do not ask for your opinion, because "you are of the same kind - you are The Family".

I wonder what they mean by "The Family"? In the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English "Family" is defined as "all the people related to you, including those who are now dead". Relatives seem to rely on dictionaries more than on your heart and feelings. In my life, "Family" are all the people 1 love and value. They are not necessarily my relations by blood. But they know me, they confide in me, they share my problems and success, they love me after all! Someone once said: "God gave us our relatives. Fortunately we can choose our friends ourselves!" I'm sure I'm not the only one who can endorse these words.


5. Read the text and put questions to it


6. Make up a dialogue according to this text.


7. Give a short summary of the text.


8. Write down an essay and explain your feelings and opinion on this text.


9. Are you for or against the author’s opinion? Prove your point of view.

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