It Takes Time to be a Perfect Dad in a Broken Family
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It Takes Time to be a Perfect Dad in a Broken Family
According to Pope John XXIII, “It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father.” This quote makes sense because people know that men can have children if they want, but some of them do not know how to act as a real parent and some of them are afraid to take their responsibilities if they already have a family. In addition, sometimes the family that a man and a woman build does not work because of the different circumstances or issues that a father and a mother have. Two such short stories are “Reunion” and “Powder”, these stories are about the father-son relationship in a broken family. The “Reunion” by John Cheever ends in a way with the son’s disappointment because of his father’s actions, whereas the “Powder” by Tobias Wolff ends with the son’s feeling of love for his father. The story “Reunion” is about the life of a teenage boy, who plans to have a reunion with his father after not seeing each other for a long period of time; at first the teenage boy named Charlie seems so glad to finally see his dad again, but at the end he feels so much disappointment in his dad. Charlie’s parents are divorced and he had not seen his father for three years.
When he has a chance to be with his father, he decides to grab that opportunity to reunite and create happy memories together with his dad. At Grand Central Station in New York, Charlie looks very nervous and at the same time excited. As soon as he sees a man walking from the crowd, he already knows and feels that the man is his dad. “He was a stranger to me — my mother divorced him three years ago and I hadn’t been with him since…” says Charlie (268). The father seems to be a businessman and he knows how to speak other languages. It seems that he is educated, but gets annoyed easily. He is rude, he talks loudly, he does whatever he wants, he seems not to care about other people’s feelings, and he appears to be sarcastic all the time. The father looks to have a problem with alcohol since the moment that Charlie smells his dad, he smells like whisky and Charlie’s father keeps drinking at the restaurants. Additionally, the father in “Reunion” wants to impress the people around him especially his son. However, this does not work as the teenage boy sees his dad’s real attitude. The main conflict in the story is the argument that Charlie’s father has with the waiters.
The waiter says to Charlie’s dad that he do not like to be clapped at (par. 5). Charlie’s father answers that he should have brought his whistle that is audible only to the ears of old waiter (par. 6). Not only to the waiters, but the father also has an argument to the newspaper boy when the father and the son go back to the train station. In the very beginning, the reunion goes well until the father becomes worried because of the irrelevant things that happen and ruin the priceless moment for his child. The teenage boy, on the other hand, stays calm, silent and never argues to his father despite the bad manners that his father had shown. In the end of the story, Charlie looks disappointed about how his father really is and acts; nonetheless, he still respects and loves his dad. Charlie says a simple good bye to his father when the train comes and that is the last time they see each other. However, in the short story “Powder” there is certain relationship that is somewhat different because the son acts more mature and the dad seems to act like a teenager, but then again the son feels the love for his father.
The “Powder” is the story of a young man and his father’s adventure on a ski trip at Mount Baker. The young man’s parents are separated similarly to the first story; the father has guaranteed to bring back his son to his mother before the Christmas Eve dinner. The mother is angry to the father for sneaking her son into a nightclub just to see the Thelonious Monk. Nevertheless, the father fights for his son’s privilege of his company and chooses to have some last runs that cause them to become trapped in a snowstorm. The young man wishes that he was at home. “I could see everything. The green tablecloth, the plates with the holly pattern, the red candles waiting to be lit,” says the son (301). The young man seems shy to speak to his dad, “I was supposed to say, “Right, doctor,” but I didn’t say anything” (301). He is always thinking in advance and calculating the risks of his movements and the careless actions of his father. Also, he seems more organized unlike his dad “I was a boy who kept his clothes on numbered hangers to ensure proper rotation. I bothered my teachers for homework assignments far ahead of their due dates so I could make up schedules,” the young man said (304).
Furthermore, in the first few paragraphs of the story “Powder”, there are some phrases that describe the personality of the father — “He’d had to fight for the privilege of my company, he wouldn’t give up, and he was indifferent to my fretting” (301). These phrases express an image of a father with an aggressive nature who would always follow what he desires. These differ from his son’s personality; on the other hand, the father loves and cares for his son. Also, he just wants to develop a good bonding with his son. The father does everything; he uses his Austin-Healey and driving skills — all to keep his promise to his son’s mom. At the end of the story, the young man defines his dad as, “My father in his forty-eighth year, rumpled, kind, bankrupt of honor, flushed with certainty.
He was great driver…” (304). The story ends with the son’s feeling of love for his father, too, although he is holding back the emotion that he feels for his dad because he does not want to take any risk. It takes time to build a good rapport between a father and a son if they have a broken family, especially if the custody of a child is given to the female parent. Though both stories “Reunion” and “Powder” talk about a broken family and father-son relationship, there are some differences since the father in “Reunion” does not care about his son, while in “Powder” the father does his best to show to his son that their bonding is worth it and he does everything to keep his promise and not to break his son’s trust. Both young men are similar in terms of the affection that they have for their dads, but they have different personalities. Additionally, in the short story “Powder”, the father and the son have more adventures and more conversations compared to the story in “Reunion”, which is also contrary to the title of the story for the reason that the father and the son reunite, but the expectation that we really assume does not happen.