The Father-Son Relationship Essay
973 WordsSep 30th, 20124 Pages
ESLEOY - Essay
By Toan Nguyen
THE FATHER-SON RELATIONSHIP
In family life, there is often a lack of communication between parents and their children. Although parental love is always present, children often misunderstand or are unaware of their parent's love for them, especially the father’s love. Fathers often try to keep their strong figure as the head of the households and their love is usually implicit. The three short stories, “Penny in the Dust,” by Ernest Buckler, “A Secret Lost in the Water,” by Roch Carrier and “Lies My Father Told Me,” by Ted Allan all share a similar theme – relationship between fathers and sons. The father-son relationship portrayed in each of these three stories is awkward and distant which…show more content…
Peter has mixed emotions when he sees the bright, shiny and new penny. He realizes that his father had never forgotten that day; the two of them sitting together in the sand and expressing their love for each other. Ultimately, this story reveals that love is not always expressed verbally. The penny is the symbol of love and dream between Peter and his father.
In the second story, “A Secret Lost in the Water,” written by Roch Carrier, who is also the protagonist of this short story. He explores the importance of tradition in relation to formal ‘schoolbook’ knowledge. His father was an expert in finding fresh water source by using a mere alder branch. His father also tried to pass this skill to his son; however, as the son grows up and become old, the son forgets the life lesson he was once taught. When he is given an opportunity to remember the talent passed down by his father in his early childhood, he struggles to perform the secret. As he struggles to hear the gushing water and the branch to writhe, a fellow farmer says, “Nowadays, fathers can’t pass on anything to the next generation.” This quote is very powerful, because it directly points to the moral of the story: not all fathers can pass talents to the sons. In addition, the farmer too experiences this reality, for he has the finest farm in the area, and his children did not want to inherit the farm which their father spent his whole life
The relationship between Hassan and his son Sohrab, demonstrates the necessity of an empathetic father, because it shows life where a relationship between father and son can develop. The relationship between Hassan and his son Sohrab is completely juxtaposed to Amir’s relationship with Baba, and their family acts as a foil to Amir’s, promoting the theme of the necessity of an empathetic father. Hassan listens to his son, plays with him, enjoys spending time with him, and really understands him. He takes his son’s feelings into account. Sohrab has a connection with his father and enjoys his early years spent with Hassan, whereas Amir’s early years are spent trying to get his father’s attention and make his father proud of him. Amir dedicates his childhood to futile attempts of creating a bond with his father, while Sohrab’s bond is nurtured by his father as well as Sohrab himself. Sohrab has his father’s love, so he continues in life as a good boy, who believes in what is right, whereas Amir constantly strives without success for his father’s love, which leads him to carrying out very malicious actions with enormous consequences. In specific relation to these two father-son relationships, Hassan is a foil to Baba while Sohrab is a foil to Amir. Hassan and Baba are both proud, strong men who stand up for what is good and right in the world. Baba puts his own life in danger to save a woman from being raped by a soldier when they are attempting to escape Kabul: “Tell him I’ll take a thousand of his bullets before I let this indecency take place” (122).
Hassan also puts his own life in danger to get a kite for Amir, because he knows how much he wants it. Hassan runs the losing kite for Amir, finds it in an alley where he gets jumped by Assef and his goons and then makes the choice to put his Amir above himself: “Today, it’s only going to cost you that blue kite. A fair deal, boys, isn’t it?’ I could see the fear creeping into Hassan’s eyes, but he shook his head… ‘This is his kite’… ‘I’ve changed my mind,’ Assef said. ‘I’m letting you keep this kite…so it will always remind you of what I’m about to do” (77-78). Both Baba and Hassan sacrifice themselves for what they think is right, demonstrating that they are both well-intentioned people; however, Baba doesn’t have the same compassion and understanding towards his son that Hassan has. He just doesn’t accept Amir for who he is because he’s not as sensitive to his son’s feelings as Hassan is. Hassan accepts his son Sohrab from the second he is born, because he is his father, and he creates their relationship from that. Baba waits for Amir to enjoy something that Baba enjoys because he doesn’t think that he can have a relationship with his son unless there’s some common interest, even though Baba himself never tries to meet Amir halfway, or even put forth much effort into starting a real relationship. Basically, Hassan understands that his son needs a fatherly figure in his life and Hassan is more than willing to take the first step towards nurturing the relationship. Baba believes that his son is a lost cause, because he doesn’t enjoy sports, and instead loves to read and write. Baba doesn’t attempt to start a relationship with Amir during his childhood because there were no common interests; however, the point of being an understanding fatherly figure is encouraging and helping your son, despite the differences between you. To put matters in a simpler way, Hassan creates a relationship between him and his son, allowing his son to grow as a better person; while Baba neglects his son, causing him to go to great lengths to capture his father’s love. Amir ends up betraying his best friend to achieve this goal which sparks the guilt that afflicts him for the rest of his life. Baba neglecting Amir was the spark that ignited Amir’s actions towards the betrayal of Hassan, and ultimately the beginning of his journey back to Kabul to save Sohrab. In summary, Hassan and Sohrab’s relationship demonstrates the necessity of an empathetic fatherly figure in one’s life because they highlight the flaws in Baba and Amir’s relationship, showing how to be a compassionate father, and how nurturing can benefit a child more than depriving can.
Most significantly, the relationship between Amir and Sohrab demonstrates the necessity of an empathetic fatherly figure in one’s life, because it shows Amir alternating between Hassan’s and his own father’s parenting styles. When Sohrab is ten years old, his mother and father are killed and he is sent to live in an orphanage. After living in the orphanage for a few months he is taken in by Assef, the man who raped Sohrab’s father Hassan, and begins to do the same to him. Because of this past, Sohrab fears nothing worse than orphanages and the horrors they represent. Eventually Amir saves Sohrab and takes him away with him, to a hotel. Amir tries to connect with Sohrab and “fill in” as his dad; however, Sohrab is attempting to recover from the loss of his parents, as well as the abuse he suffered from Assef. The difficult time he’s going through means just isn’t ready to call someone else his father yet. Amir continues to try to be this substitute Hassan for Sohrab but it just isn’t working and he isn’t connecting to Sohrab the way he wants to. During this time he is also trying to secure a passport and adoption papers for Sohrab but there are some technicalities. After hearing what an adoption agent has to say, Amir makes a quick and rash decision to tell Sohrab that he may have to go back to an orphanage in order to be adopted, and Sohrab completely rejects the idea: “You mean an orphanage?’ It would only be for a little while.’ ‘No,’ he said. ‘No please.’… ‘You promised you’d never put me in one of those places, Amir Agha’… [Sohrab’s] voice was breaking, tears pooling in his eyes” (358). Sohrab hates orphanages because they represent everything he blames them for the turmoil he’s had to put up with in his life. Amir knows how much he hates orphanages but he chooses to adopt his father’s parenting style and not be sensitive to Sohrab’s feelings. He even reassures himself that what he is doing is right with something he once heard his father say: “I waited, rocked him until his breathing slowed and his body slackened. I remember something… That’s how children deal with terror. They fall asleep” (359). Amir changes from Hassan’s parenting style to Baba’s parenting style; from this caring father to one who believes the child should have to learn on their own. Amir puts Hassan to sleep right after breaking his heart and then Amir himself, proceeds to go to sleep. He wakes up to a phone call a few hours later and finds Sohrab in the bathtub, with his wrists slit. Sohrab had been opening up to Amir when he was treating him the same way Hassan had, but as soon as he neglected Sohrab, just as Amir himself had been neglected by Baba, awful things happened, just like they did with Amir.
However, Amir isn’t an awful parent; he still tries to connect with Sohrab because he does love and care for him. At the end of the novel, Amir takes Hassan to Lake Elizabeth Park in Fremont and buys a kite which he flies with Sohrab. Amir gets into a kite-fight with another person and cuts down their kite, helping Sohrab relive the relationship he had with his father, and giving hope to Amir and Sohrab’s relationship. Sohrab has been silent since his suicide attempt, an emotionless husk; however, on that day he began to open up again, after Amir took interest in Sohrab’s own interests: “the green kite was spinning and wheeling out of control… I looked down at Sohrab. One corner of his mouth had curled up so. A smile. Lopsided. Hardly there. But there” (391). Sohrab begins to open up again after all of Amir’s attempts as a father, because he never gave up on Sohrab after the incident with the orphanage. He treated him like a son, took interest in him, and finally got Sohrab to open up, leaving the book off with a sense of hope for a better tomorrow because Amir has finally learned the true meaning of being a father. To summarize, the relationship between Amir and Sohrab demonstrates the necessity of an empathetic fatherly figure because it was parallel to the relationship between Baba and Amir, reinforcing the notion that awful things happen to children when their “fatherly figure” doesn’t understand them, as demonstrated by Amir’s betrayal of Hassan and Sohrab’s attempt to take his own life. The relationship also mirrored Hassan and Sohrab’s relationship when Amir finally gets Sohrab to start opening up when they go kite-fighting, ending the book with hope because Amir has learned the meaning of being a true, empathetic fatherly figure. Never giving up hope.