Essay by Anonymous UserHigh School, 11th gradeA+, December 1996

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Literature is meant to provide a perspective on life. Phrases or quotes found in

works of literature may be used to help express one's own thoughts, to describe a particular

situation, or even to apply the circumstances in another piece of literature. Readers often

utilize literary quotes for this purpose, yet not every reader will interpret a given quote the

same way. One example of a phrase which can have many different meanings is the biblical

quote 'The sins of the father visit upon the children.'

A literal interpretation of the above quote would mean the wrongdoings of the father

somehow affects the children. If the 'bad habits' of one generation aren't corrected, they

will be passed on to the generations that follow. That can result in generations of drug

abusers, spouse abusers, or just rude people. One example of this interpretation might be if a

father is a drug abuser, the children will learn from him, and use drugs also.


example is if the father is abusive, the children will think that is how problems are solved.

They, in turn, will be abusive to their families, and will start a vicious cycle for generations to

come. These examples definitely show how this biblical quote may be interpreted literally.

'The sins of the father visit upon the children' has a deeper meaning than that

described above. For example, 'father' could be changed to 'parent,' and these 'parents'

could mean 'generations' that precede the children. A situation that would represent that

would be war or pollution. A second example which illustrates how this quote may be

interpreted on a more global level is preceding generations could affect the children by

means of racial discrimination that has been passed down from long ago. This may have

started with slavery and segregation.