Dysfunctional family relationships form the basis of many Canadian short stories. Often, tragedy is the end result of severe family breakdown. In other cases, personality defects are directly traceable to poor family dynamics. In the stories “Hurt”, “Fall of a City”, and “The Sound of Hollyhocks” there were very profound family problems.
The difficulty in the father/son relationship in “Hurt” reflects a role reversal. Even though
Stevie is only a young boy, he took care of himself and his father. Stevie made his own meals and when his father was inebriated, he “...went down to the store and got him a couple bottles of vanilla to sober up on.” (pg. 195) In a family situation a young child such as Stevie should not have the responsibility of taking care of his parent. Moreover, even when Stevie’s father was sober, Stevie could do whatever he liked without consequence. Skip described such a freedom when he said that “Stevie went to school when he wanted to go...” (pg. 193) This lack of rules or an authority figure demonstrates the dysfunctionality of this family. Also, Stevie’s father was a violent alcoholic. Skip observed that somedays Stevie’s father would be “...pounding on the walls with his fists and swearing and crying all at the same time...” (pg. 195) The parent/child role reversal , the lack of structure, discipline, and authority in the home and the violent episodes demonstrate the degree of dysfunction in this family.
“Fall of a City” depicts the dysfunctional...