In many instances, children gain their beliefs, values, and their ways of living from their parents. This is inevitable, socialization plays a key role in how children act and shape their identity. George Saunders’ “Victory Lap” illustrates three different characters whose parental influence shaped their actions when faced with conflict. Saunders writes in the third person from inside the character’s minds.
Allison is fun-loving, positive, and sweet. She loves her life and her parents. They have created a supportive environment in which she can see her own value. After her incident involving Kyle and the stranger, Allison’s parents reassured her that she did the right thing. They said, “You did so good” and “Did beautiful”. It’s interesting to see how impactful parent-child dynamics can be. Her positive outlook comes from her parent’s constant support and kindness.
On the other hand, Saunders portrays Kyle’s parents as overbearing and strict. Since Kyle is their only child, they justify their actions by saying, “I know sometimes we strike you as strict but you are literally all we have.” In his every action, Kyle constantly thinks about what his parents have taught him to do and if his actions will be approved by his parents. Although the ending is unclear, Kyle may have gone so far as to “blow up” from his parent’s constant control over him.
Finally, Saunders gives his readers a glimpse from the stranger’s point of view. Even after 15 years of his stepfather, Melvin being dead, he still has a major influence on him. “Melvin appeared in his mind. On Melvin’s face was the hot look of disappointment that had always preceded an ass whooping, which had always preceded the other thing. Put up your hands, defend yourself.” This clues the reader into the reasoning why the stranger did what he did to Allison. To me, violence is probably the only thing the stranger knows: his way of life. He’s doing this to girls because he feels he has something to prove to his father: he’s not a disappointment.