Being A Good Father

Being A Good Father

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Being A Good Father

     Although the essay “My Father’s Son” and the poem “my father’s son” written by the same author, Mel Donalson and have similar titles, they have different ways to express the son’s feeling of his father’s character, merit and devotion to his family. Both essay and poem’s main ideas center around affection and father’s commitment to his family. However, the poem only describes the cold weather and the father’s image in his regular life style without expression of the author’s deep feeling. It is understandable that the poem mainly expresses the author’s naïve character during his childhood. On the other hand, the essay is more detail in describing the author’s different feelings from his journey from boyhood to manhood. Unlike the poem, Donalson focuses on his life’s experience and development with his changeable attitude to father: from ungratefulness and contempt to thankfulness and respect. Although both the poem and essay are different in form and narrator, they share the same elements and visual images to support the author’s message of respect between a father and son.
     The author, Donalson, uses visual images in both the poem and essay to describe the respectable father whom the author had. He uses the word “gladiator” to describe his father. “Gladiator” literally means man trained to fight with weapons at public shows in an arena; however, it symbolizes his father’s courage and tolerance of hard-working environment. In the poem, the poet portrays his father as “dark and beautiful” and uses the phrases “broadness of his back,” and “a large dry hand” to describe his father. “Dark and beautiful” tells the reader that the author knows his father’s humble origin in the South but he still appreciates his father’s appearance. “Broadness of his back” shows his father is a strong and powerful man. All those merits of his father give reason that his father is a respectable man. In the essay, similar descriptions used to describe his father like “dark shadow moving against the white background,” “dark face hidden beneath a knit cap,” and “his giant steps.” Donalson emphasizes his father is a big and powerful man. His endurance and responsibility to his family really please the author. His father never did anything special besides “piling the Christmas gifts” and “covering the car insurance” to his son but he can still manage to endear himself to his family.
     In contrast to the poem, Donalson uses limited omniscient narrator in his essay to reveal to the reader his deep feelings of respect to his father.

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According to the author, when he reached his late 20s, he “looked forward to returning home […] and hearing his warm, fulfilling laughter.” It shows the reader evidence that the author had changed his contemptuous attitude to respectfulness to his father. He wants to return to his father’s shelter and rediscovers his father. When he reached his 40s and had his son, he “wonder[s] what he thinks of me” and questions “Will he claim me in the name of love and respect?” The author keeps asking himself whether he is a good father. Although he respects his father now, he regrets his contemptuous attitude to his father in the past, so he “awoke in the early morning hours […] worked overtime” in order to make his son’s life better. He hopes his son will not repeat his own mistakes and disrespect him as a father. The way that his father sacrifice himself to his family made him a respectable man; the author knows this well and now he wants to pass this to the next generation.
     Being a father is the most difficult role to play in a family. People usually request their fathers to be the “gladiators” in the society, fighting for all provision for the family; however, inside the family, their fathers are expected to be the heroes with greatest respect. Isn’t it too high to meet the requirement of being a good father? What would you do when you were a father.

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