Lust and Love: A Father's Role

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The short stories “Alchemy” and “House”, from Madeleine Thien’s “Simple Recipes”, portray fathers that are drastically different from each other. In each of these stories a father is present, but the way each is shown interacting with their families differs extraordinarily. This interaction with their family leads to very different outcomes for the families and how the children view their father in their lives. Although both fathers are shown to be hard working and described by the narrators as caring they are very different from each other in their motives, lives at home, and the way they are perceived by their children. One is seen as a loving father who is missed by his daughters and the other is scrutinized and hated by his.
The first difference that is found between the two fathers is their presence in their homes. While the father in “Alchemy” lives at home with his wife and his daughter Paula the father in “House” lives and calls his wife and daughters, Kathleen and Lorraine, from “Port Hardy where he was logging the Island” (Thien 106). This difference in living at and away from home changes the way their children look at them. Paula looks at her father negatively making her feel uneasy and embarrassed around him and this is discovered after he makes a harsh remark towards Paula’s best friend Miriam to which she “stared at her plate, motionless” (Thien 59). This also makes her wish Miriam would stay over with her and this is opposite to Kathleen and Lorraine who miss their father and want to live a life where their whole family is together which is shown when Lorraine asks her father over the phone “If we have enough money, why do you have to live there?” (Thien 106). While Lorraine and Kathleen love their father and wan...

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...eleine Thien’s short stories “Alchemy” and “House” we see two fathers who play important roles in their daughter’s lives. Although both fathers show some similar qualities it is seen that they are not alike besides the fact that they are both fathers to daughters. Furthermore it was shown that both are hard working and described by other characters as caring, but in the end only the father in “House” proves these claims to be true, while the other shows us what kind of dad he is. The descriptions of the fathers provided by the narrator of each story seem similar for the fathers, but as the stories progressed only the outward appearances of the fathers were the same and that on the inside they are completely different. This proves that both men are not alike, and while one father is doing whatever he can for his children the other is selfish and uncaring towards his.
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