Father-Child Relationships in Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Theodore Dreiser's Old Rogaum and His Theresa

Father-Child Relationships in Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Theodore Dreiser's Old Rogaum and His Theresa

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Father-Child Relationships in Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Theodore Dreiser's Old Rogaum and His Theresa

In Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Theodore Dreiser's Old Rogaum and His Theresa, the relationships of the children and fathers are quite similar. Both stories depict a father who feels the need to physically discipline their child to get a point across. The stories both show actions and reactions by the parents as well as the children to the situations presented in these stories.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain presents a father who believes that his son should be "tanned" for going to school and getting an education. Huck continued to go to school even though he had his father to deal with. "I'll lay for you, my smarty; and if I catch you about that school I'll tan you good."(p.231) Huck's father, whom he calls Pap, thinks that a son should not be smarter than his father "I'll learn people to bring up a boy to put airs over his own father and let on to be better'n what he is."(p.231) Huck's father also threatened to take Huck away with him. "He said he would show who was Huck Finn's boss." Old Ragaum and His Theresa by Theodore Dreiser presents a father who believes that an 18 year old girl should not be out late at night, at least past 9:00PM. Her father would always call for her about that time and she would eventually come home to her father's hand on her backside telling her the next time she would be locked out.
"Muss ich all my time spenden calling, mit you de streeds oudt?" old Ragaum
would roar wrathfully, the while his fat hand would descend on her back.
"Take dot now. Vy don'd you come ven I call? In now, I vill show you. Und
come you yussed vunce more at dis time—ve vill see if I am boss in my own

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house, aber! Komst du vun minute nach ten to-morrow and und vill see vot
you vill get. I vill ver door lock. Du sollst not in kommen. Mark! Oudt sollst du
stayen—oudt!" and he would glare wrathfully at her retreating figure."
Showing who was the boss of Huck, Pap eventually did kidnap him and took him off "…where it was woody and there warn't no houses but an old log hut in a place where the timber was so thick you couldn't find it if you didn't know where it was."(p.233) Pap locked up Huck in this log hut and left him at home sometimes for days at a time. He was starting to beat Huck more and more.
"But by-and-by pap got too handy with his hick'ry, and I couldn't stand it. I
was all over welts. He got to going away so much, too, and locking me in.
Once he locked me in and was gone three days."(p.234)
Theresa's father finally did lock her out when she would not come one night when he called for her. When she did get home that night and found the door locked her father would still not open the door even when she called out. "Again the door rattled, and still she got no answer. Not even her call brought a sound."(p.956)
After leaving Huck alone for some time and beating him whenever Pap felt like it, Huck figured out a way to escape. Huck found "…an old rusty wood-saw without any handle…and went to work."(p.234) One day after Pap left for town Huck finished sawing out and ran off making it look as if the hut had been robbed and Huck had been murdered.
"I took the axe and smashed in the door—I beat it and hacked it
considerable, a-doing it. I fetched the pig in and took him back…to the table
and hacked his throat…and laid him down on the ground to bleed…I pulled
out some of my hair, and bloodied the ax good, and stuck it on the back side,
and slung the ax in the corner."(p.239)
When Theresa was not able to get her father to let her into the house she hurt and angry so she left and started walking back corner where "Connie" was, her "boyfriend". She took her boyfriend's advice and "Teach ‘em a lesson…We'll walk around a while an' make ‘em think yuh mean business. They won't lock yuh out anymore."(p.957)
Huck's actions at the log hut sent his father to having the river swept to find his body. However in the end Huck figures that his father has already been back to take all of Huck's money but he has not. Jim delivers the news to Huck that his father will not be bothering him anymore.
"Doan' you ‘member de house dat was float'n down de river, en dey wuz a
man in dah, kivered up, en I went in en unkivered him and didn' let you come
in? Well, den, you k'n got yo money when you wants it; kase dat wuz
In the end Huck was able to go to school anyway and become "sivilized" to spite his father.
After Theresa left her house when her father would not let her in, Rogaum started looking out the window "At half-past ten…At eleven, the same."(p.958) He went out after her then but found an unpleasant surprise, "a prone and writhing woman" that he thought at the moment was his daughter who had tried to kill herself. Fortunately it was not and after contacting the police about this lady he also had them out looking for Theresa. The police found out that the lady who tried to kill herself was once thrown out of her house as well and made sure that old Rogaum found out. Finally at about 4:00AM the police finally found Theresa with her boyfriend. Her father was feeling a wide range of emotions.
"From an earlier rage he has passed to an almost killing grief, but now at
the thought that he might possibly see his daughter alive and well once
more he was overflowing with a mingled emotion which contained rage,
fear, sorrow, and a number of other things."(p.964)
When Rogaum finally did see his daughter "…he was beside himself with fear, rage, affection." He did not whip her when they arrived at home only telling her that she did not need to be on the "… streads so late. I von't haf it."
Both fathers believed that total control over their child would make their life easier it seemed but all that it did was make things more complicated. Huck's father had to hide away just to prove his point and make sure that Huck could not get away but only made Huck want to get away that much more to do something that even Huck did not really want to do, become "sivilized". The fact that Huck had been apparently murdered evidently was not high on the list for Pap to mourn or at least it was not brought to Huck's attention that it was. Theresa's father ended up having to go out in the middle of the night, and for a brief moment believe that his daughter was dead on his doorstep, to search for her. Just to prove the point that Theresa should be home before a certain time caused not only Theresa heartache but himself and his wife as well. These stories show you can only have so much control over a child's life before the child becomes bitter and resentful toward not meaning to be parents.
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