A Comparative Analysis of Father-Son Relationships in Literature

A Comparative Analysis of Father-Son Relationships in Literature

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Huver - 1Josh Huver AP English Mrs. Soltis 16 November, 2006 Carpal Tunnel of Love Parental figures are the foundation of any childhood beliefs. Children will defend their parents to the end, regardless of how right or how wrong they might be, that is, if the child even recognizes the difference. Throughout the classic Greek tragedy Oedipus the King , by Sophocles, the modern play True West by Sam Shepard, the short story Barn Burning , by William Faulkner, and the poem My Papa’s Waltz , by Theodore Roethke, the main child-parent relationship is under constant strain. The pressures of what the child can or has grown up into, as opposed to what they should have or are destined to grow up into, appears evident in almost every line. In Oedipus , the main relationship is between Oedipus and, unbeknownst to him, his true parents, Laius and Jocasta. Laius and Jocasta received a prophecy stating their son Oedipus would be their down fall. Thus by their actions, they unknowingly solidify the prophecy and Oedipus’ tragic fate. In True West , Shepard brilliantly contrasts Lee, the spitting image of his burn-out, thieving father, and Austin, a happy graduate of a university and a man of upstanding morals and character. The two brothers constantly try to shy away from any similarities with each other, and their father. However it may appear that Austin has achieved the goal brilliantly, as Lee failed, it slowly dawns on the reader that Austin is truly unhappy while the reader witnesses him revert more and more drastically to the characteristics of his father as the play continues on. Faulkner’s Barn Burning takes on a very different approach as Colonel Sartoris Snopes is still a young boy,
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Huver - naive and eager to support his father, Mr. Abner Snopes. Young Sarty is at the age of reason and is facing personal a dilemma as he becomes more and more unsure of what he has always known. Suddenly Mr. Snopes appears less appealing and setting random barns ablaze no longer impresses the boy, who now wishes only for his father to realize the error of his deeds, and hopefully change. In Roethke’s poem “My Papa’s Waltz,” the father-son relationship appears at the most easy going and simple out of any of the other works read for this paper. The boy is young and loving of his father, a hard working man that enjoys an after work drink. There underlies a slight fear from the boy throughout the poem; not a fear of the father but one of exhilaration and excitement. Throughout each of these works, there lies a significantly noticeable presence, or lack thereof, of a strong father figure in relation to his son. How the son handles his life and decisions have one hundred percent to do with the amount of interaction of a father
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A Comparative Analysis of Father-Son Relationships in Literature

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