Lessons Learned

 Andre Dubus’ essay dealt with a lot of childhood emotions in which we can all relate to. I believe a lot of people are uncomfortable, to some extent, in being “themselves” and expressing how they really feel towards a relative, friend or teacher. Perhaps this distant behavior stems from a fear of punishment, or maybe it is derived from a fear of bringing disappointment in the eyes of your relative. Regardless, we tend to put a shield up; trapped in a vision that your beholder desires. Beneath the seemingly ideal exterior rests an entangled disarray of our own visions – uncertain in what we feel to be true. And although most times we may feel as if we know better than what our parents try to instill within us – we must take every piece of advice they have tried to give, at least to some extent, into consideration when shaping our own character. After all, if whoever is trying to influence us truly does display compassion and love, we must assume that their guidance is stemmed from such emotion. As we grow older, I think we begin to realize this more. And it is almost as if Dubus is reflecting upon his realization while writing this essay. His resentment turns into gratitude and appreciation; and I believe the reader can learn a thing or two based upon his assessment.

As we discussed in class – there are many lessons in which our parents try to force upon as that we dreaded as a child. Such as writing thank you cards, making an effort to speak to your grandparents are forcing you to finish an activity in which you made a commitment to. Although Dubus did not enjoy the forceful labor his dad put him through, he did eventually learn from his experiences. Rather than the relationship he had with his mother or sisters, who seemed to have treated him much more tenderly – his father taught him a sterner lesson; and without his father’s more brutal approach, I believe Dubus would not have the character he has now. As stated in the last paragraphs, if his mother were to be the one to have picked him up after becoming ill at work, she would have merely “given me iced tea and, after my shower, a hot dinner;” while his sister would return home and tell him “not to despise [himself]” (p81). Sometimes, in order to learn a meaningful lesson, we must be taught in a not so easy way. Although his mothers and sisters tender approach is clearly out of the love they have for Dubus – I believe his father’s persistence is an act of even greater compassion. His “tough love” approach may not show compassion directly in the moment; nonetheless, his father’s intentions, stemmed from a compassion that is far greater, one in which builds individuality and character. 

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