‘Father to Son’ by Elizabeth Jennings shows us how by the time parents accept the new individuality of their children, the damage has already been done and the process of coming together is difficult and painful.
Respecting each others’ differences is the only way to alleviate the distance, the strange and awkward silence. While the father’s anguish and frustration is highlighted, the ego comes through as well.
Important Question and Answers
Q. What is the father’s problem in the poem ‘Father to Son’?
Ans. Father’s problem is that he does not understand his son. Though, he has lived with his son in the same house for years, he feels that he knows nothing of him.
Q. What does the father intend to do in order to be able to understand his son?
Ans. The father finds it very difficult to understand his grown up child. So, he has a new plan. He tries to build a relationship thinking how his son was when he was small.
Q. Why do you think the father appears the helpless?
Ans. The father is unable to understand what his son loves to do. He is not in a position to advise him as there is hardly any intimacy between them. They speak like strangers, otherwise there is silence around them. The son has his own dreams and plans which the father does not appreciate.
Q. Why can’t the father understand what his son speaks?
Ans. The father cannot understand what his son speaks because of the generation gap. The emotions of the son are unknown to the father.
Q. How do the father and son speak to each other?
Ans. Father and son speak to each other like strangers. There is no sign of understanding between each other or in their attitude.
Q. What does the speaker say about father-son relationship?
Ans. Actually, the father-son relationship is nonfunctional. The father does not understand the aspirations, longings or cravings of the son. They speak like strangers. Their exchanges, if any, are just formal. Otherwise, silence surrounds them.
Q. What is the present state of the son according to the father?
Ans. According to the father, his son has made a world of his own. He is the master of the world. He does not depends on his father anymore.
Q. What does the father say about the built up of his son?
Ans. The father says that the child is built to his design. In other words, he has grown on expected lines. Yet, the difficulty is that the father does not understand his emotion. This grieves him.
Q. 9. ‘I would have ….. Him prodigal’, says the father. Does he really want his son to be so?
Ans. No, the father does not want his son to be really prodigal. He says these words only to show how much he aspires for closeness with his son. To get him back to him, he would even have him prodigal.
Q. How can you infer that the father wishes his son to remain at home with him?
Ans. The father finds the son’s interests quite different. He is home bound, whereas the son is on the look out for fresh avenues. He aspires for a world of his own. The father wants him to return home even if he undergoes losses by extravagant ventures. He is willing to make up with him if he agrees to live with him.
Q. What do you think is responsible for the distance between father and son?
Ans. The lack of understanding on the part of the older generation (here, father) is at the root of the problem. The father wants the young man to stick to home turf. The son, now a young man, seeks fresh avenues and lives in a world of his own. The father finds it hard to adjust to the growing charges.