The reading for this week revolved around the relationship between a father and son. Dubus describes his summer job, a job that he did not want, but kept anyway because he was afraid of disappointing his father. He describes the uncomfortable work environment, and the tedious nature of the job, and how the first day of work made him feel weak. He vomits, eats no food, is burned by the sun, and feels physically exhausted, and because he is afraid of disappointing his father, he doesn’t say a word as his father picks him up, only to buy him a hat that will help him work better. This attitude is best summed up when Dubus writes, “I could not tell a man what I felt, if I believed what I felt was unmanly.” However, by the end of the story, Dubus acknowledges the effect that this had on him. He realized that because he did not give up, he became his definition of a man that summer.
Dubus’s relationship with his father is similar, yet different from the relationship I have with my dad. I have the same sense that I cannot tell him something that would I would perceive as “unmanly.” Part of this is because he is a man of very few words, and always keeps his composure. I both admire and resent this. I’ve never been able to talk openly with him whenever I felt doubt and needed direction. As an only son, my dad was really the only male figure I had, and some a few years of my early teenage life, I was unsure how to deal with emotion correctly. Unlike Dubus, however, my dad never put the pressure of “disappointment” on me. He never set me up with a task and judged me based upon how I reacted.
I think that commenting on father-son relationships are tricky because there is no one way to have a successful relationship. For Dubus, I am glad that he saw the value in his father’s actions as he grew older, and realized that he is the man he is because of that summer job. Even as I get older, I appreciate the quiet reserve of my father, and see more shades of him as I face even greater obstacles.