On being a “man.” (Digging.)

“Digging” by Andre Dubus was about a teenage boy who was put to work by his father. They have a strange relationship–they don’t talk much but Andre yearns to be respected and admired by his father. He was “shy” with his own father. Unlike his friends, who’s fathers would yell at them much more, and get into arguments. His father rarely yelled, but when he did, everyone heard him. He was authoritative, a real “man,” and he wanted his son to be like him. Andre couldn’t really say no to his father, as he didn’t want to disappoint him. He took the job and it changed his life forever. He finally felt more respected. What really stood out to me from this was the way he ended the piece.

“And I would have spent the summer at home, nestled in the love of the two women, peering at my father’s face, and yearning to be someone I respected…and that is where my father sent me with a helmet on my head.”

Andre is really grateful that his father was so adamant on him working at the digging site. Something that really piqued my interest was the fact that his father was so proud of him not telling his supervisor that the puked. But nobody knew the real reason was because he was afraid. It truly seemed like he was disconnected from his father when he said that.

I was reading this piece and realized how different my dad is from Andre’s dad. He always talks to us, jokes with us, and doesn’t put any pressure on us when it comes to expectations. My brother was allowed to be a nerdy indoors kid and when he grew out of that, my dad still supported him. He didn’t have to try and be “manly” or tough. He was allowed to have feelings. It was strange reading this and seeing that Andre was “shy” with his dad, the way he talked about his dad–it seemed as if he thought his dad looked down at him and saw him as pathetic. I couldn’t ever imagine that. My dad has never yelled at us, when we get in trouble we get a “talk.” Those tend to be WAY worse than getting hit or yelled at. For some reason hearing that he’s disappointed in me is worse than getting yelled at. I’ve experienced getting yelled at and hit by my mother and it was always way worse when I got a “talking to” from my dad. I don’t know, it’s just strange because I sort of subconsciously assumed that most dads were cheesy and fun, like mine (although I know that’s not actually true, it’s just the first thing that comes to mind when I hear the word “Dad”). It was interesting reading from the point of view of someone that has a distant relationship with his father.

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