Generational Saga YKTTW Discussion

Generational Saga
(permanent link) added: 2009-10-03 16:35:33 sponsor: Micah (last reply: 2009-10-03 16:35:33)

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Launching later tonight.

This is a work that traces the evolution of a single family through multiple (usually three) generations. Often it follows the pattern:
  1. The first-generation protagonist is an immigrant.
  2. The second-generation protagonist becomes entirely assimilated in the host culture.
  3. The third-generation protagonist ends up learning to appreciate their ancestral heritage.

Another frequent theme is that the first- and third-generation characters have more in common with each other than either does with the second-generation character.

This is primarily a literary/theatrical trope (I think), though you might be able to see less-planned versions of it in long-running Soap Operas or possibly even Comic Books.


  • Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides follows this pattern, for a family of Greek immigrants to the Detroit area.
  • Accelerando by Charles Stross; in this case, the "immigration" that occurs is into The Singularity.
  • The family from Rock 'n' Roll by Tom Stoppard aren't immigrants, but it does have the three generations of protagonists with the intermediate one being the odd one out.
  • Roots by Alex Haley is an incredibly extended example, going through seven generations.
  • Some probable examples from this blog thread, none of which I've read:
    • I Remember Mama, a play by John Van Druten (and presumably also Mama's Bank Account, the memoir on which it was based?)
    • The Philadelphian by Richard Powell
    • The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy
    • The Jalna series by Mazo de la Roche
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