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“A child cannot see himself correctly, just like he can’t see the back of his own neck” is an Arabic saying that is often used to stress how a child’s point of view can be inconsiderate and selfish in a way. What you have to understand is that children often believe that the world revolves around them. This manifests itself in a distinctly selfish point of view wherein the desire for attention and love, which is a quality embedded in every child’s personality, results in the tendency to not care about the possible ramifications of their actions until their desires are fulfilled. Yet, despite such a perspective, it should be noted that time often acts as the greatest teacher wherein over the course of several weeks, months or even years allows children to experience a full gamut of situations and develop a more well-rounded perspective about the world.
This in term enables them to better understand various social and psychological nuances which allows them to grow up into considerate adults. Despite this, it should be noted that the period of a child’s immaturity which eventually transitions into maturity as an adult is marked as a period of vulnerability which, if left unmitigated, often results in a somewhat abnormal development process. Various studies in child psychology have shown that it is important for any child to have both parents in order to properly mature. In fact it is often the case that children have the inherent desire to be connected to both parents with the mother acting as a nurturing figure while the father acts as a stalwart protector and someone to emulate. Thus, it can be stated that in both my life and in the stories “My Oedipus Complex” and “Powder” there is an inherent desire for both a father and son to get closer to each other for the relationship to work.
My Oedipus complex
The beginning of the story “My Oedipus Complex by Frank O’Connor” is interesting since it shows how unfamiliar Larry is with his father as seen in the comparison between the mythological figure Santa Clause. First and foremost, what must be understood s that this story shows the way in which a child matures from the Oedipal tendencies described by Freud into a more mature way of thinking. The story is viewed from a 5-year-old child’s perspective and takes place during World War 1 which left the narrator of the story [Larry] alone with this mother since his father was drafted for the war effort leaving his wife and child home alone for extended periods of time.
The child, Larry, described his father as “Santa Claus [because] he came and went mysteriously“ and “every night, going to bed, I [Larry] asked God to send him back safe from the war to us,” which clearly shows Larry’s eagerness to have his father around him, but that does not last long (P158, 159). As it can be seen, Larry is initially close to his mother and has had a distant relationship with his father. This ascribes to the Oedipal complex described by Freud wherein he states that a male child often develops a desire for his father which is often mitigated by fear of his father, yet in this case the father is not present which allows the condition to get out of hand.
In the second half of the story readers are introduced to the initial level of resistance that Larry has in the arrival of his father which subsequently captures the attention of his mother which he used to have. When the father finally returns home, the child notices that he is losing his share of his mom’s love, affection and bed space to his father. Larry was possessive since he was the only child and never learned how to share anything with anyone else, which made him see his father a threat in this love and attention competition. Eventually, the son realized that praying to God to send his father back to war is the way to get things back as they used to be “do you think if I prayed hard God would send Daddy back to the war?” His prayer was answered once and hopes the same will happen again to get rid of his father and reclaim what’s “rightfully” his. This part of the story shows that Larry is initially conflicted with his father being around. The attention he used to have all to himself is now divided between himself and his father. As a result, this creates a certain degree of friction since what “his: (i.e. the attention Larry used to get from his mother) is now being shared
In the last section of the story were are shown how there is an inherent desire for father and son to bond as they come to understand each other and develop a bond. In an effort to bond, the father takes Larry out for a walk in which Larry realizes that they do not share common interests and saw things from a different point of view, but that did not last long either. They reached a resolution when the father considers his child’s point of view the moment Larry says, “If another bloody baby comes into this house, I’m going out” and decided to take a more kind-hearted approach which lead to a positive reaction from Larry.
This ultimately united the father and son. When examining the last section of the story what you have to understand is that it is a reflection of the inherent desire for a father and son to develop a relationship with each other. As mentioned earlier, all children have the desire to develop a relationship with their father, yet, what must be understood is that fathers also seek to develop a relationship with their children. This story reflects this wherein despite the initial conflict both father and son had with each other they eventually came to terms resulting in the development of your average father-son relationship despite their time apart during the war. In fact, it can even be stated that the Oedipal nature of the story is a way of stating that an abnormal relationship between a mother and son exists until such a time that a father comes and the resulting relationship becomes normal once again.
The second short story is “Powder” by Tobias Wolff is an account of how a slightly more mature child views his relationship with his father as compare to “My Oedipus Complex” and is a way of showing the desire of a son to have a connection with his father. The story is viewed from the son’s perspective who is stuck in between his parents unstable relationship which apparently may lead to divorce. The story takes place during the winter season where the father agrees to take his son out skiing in an effort to bond and have some quality time with him. Despite the fact that they both have different personalities, the father never gives up on gaining his son’s love and attention.
He tries to relate to his young son by taking teenage approaches such as bumping his chin using his knuckles and allowing him to joke with him as if they are more like friends rather than father and son. In the initial part of the story, we see a stark contrast in the attitude of the son in “Powder” than that of Larry in “My Oedipus Complex”, instead of an adversarial relationship we see a son that is truly trying to connect with his father. Since despite the apparent inconvenience the son experiences during the trip he does not complain and actually tries to spend time with his father. This is far different to what can be seen in the case of Larry wherein even slight infractions are viewed with disdain.
The second part of the story shows how despite all the problems that are occurring, father and son truly want to develop a relationship with each other. They face an obstacle when a storm takes everyone by surprise leading to the closing of roads making it impossible for the father to return the son to his mother as he promised. The son in this situation shows some features of his personality as a doubtful and worrying individual making it harder for the father to impress him. On the other hand, his father is a more optimistic but still worried individual. The father decided to ignore the trooper’s words and broke the law with his son as an “accomplice” since he dragged one of the sawhorses aside to get the car out in the way, which made them both connect with each other.
Finally, since the conservative son already knows that they were going to get pulled over, he decides to enjoy it while he can with his father, which led to the ultimate resolution between the father and son. As it can be seen with the story’s conclusion, despite the problems experienced by the two during their ski trip and inevitable problems that will follow, the son still tries to enjoy his time with his father. When looking at the effort the father is trying to in order to be closer with his child and the fact that the child is trying to get close to his father, this shows their desire to get closer and develop a nice father and son relationship.
The 3rd and last story is my personal lonely childhood which will show the desire of both me and my father to develop a good father and son relationship despite our differences. Similar to Larry, my father was abroad most of the time, but for business purposes, and, similar to the other story, my personality is quite different to that of my father’s. Being an only child and with my mother so much may have caused me to develop some of my mother’s characteristics such as being introverted and shy, which is considered girly and frowned upon in the Emirati society. All the other students in school usually picked on me because my mother was the one that had to pick me up instead of my father. This made me pray every night that one day my dad will forget about his business and come back home. Many years later me and father have developed distinct different ways of looking at the world, however, despite this he has tried to relate with me by actually learning how to play my favorite racing game and trying to play with me from time to time. This shows how important me being in his life is and how we both desire to develop a good relationship with each other.
Based on what has been revealed in both short stories as well as with the experience I have had with my father, it can be seen that there is an inherent desire for both a father and son to get closer to each other for the relationship to work. Fathers and sons truly want to get along and develop a nice father and son relationship and, as such, despite time apart or differences they will try to find a way to make it work.