Father and Son by Bernard McLaverty Essay

Father and Son by Bernard McLaverty Essay

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Father and Son by Bernard McLaverty 'Father and Son' by Bernard McLaverty is a short story which is set in
a time of conflict and culminates in the death of one of the main
characters. Through the author's skilful use of literary techniques,
we know the outcome of this story is inevitably going to be tragic due
to the nature of the characters he presents. The symbolic setting
hints to the reader that conflict is going to be an important theme
and the structure of the piece allows the reader to see the painful
build up to the climactic end.

The conflict is set within the city of Belfast. The setting itself has
the connotation of division and violence and it is clear to the reader
that there is good reason for choosing this setting: the story shows
the effect of a violent society on a family. The sound of 'ambulances
criss-crossing the city' shows that the characters are in the middle
of violence and we are aware that this is likely to spill over into
the household.

Within the household itself, the hostility is continued. The lack of
communication between the father and the son is one of the main
reasons for the climatic ending. The house is not described in any
physical detail, we are only aware of the harsh sounds. We hear the 'snap
of the switch' - a harsh alliterative sound symbolic of the
relationship between the father and son. The father's feet 'click',
the 'rattling' of his pills, the newspaper 'crackling like fire' - all
of these highlight the abrasive and hostile environment. These
examples of onomatopo...


... middle of paper ...


...re not badly hurt'
==================================================

The imagery of 'the house is open to the night' is particularly
effective at the end as we know that safety is found in daytime and we
now realise that both of them were correct in trying to protect the
son. The father's worst nightmare has occurred and there will be no
further opportunity to speak to his son and sort out their
relationship.

Bernard McLaverty has effectively shown the effect of unresolved
conflict within a family unit in his short story 'Father and Son'. We
see the violent effect of a violent society and are taught about the
possible effects of non-communication. His characters ably demonstrate
the human reaction of conflict and the ultimate tragedy of the failure
to embrace your emotions and communicate with people you love.

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