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Bandini Question #8 - Father & Son

Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2007 10:18 am
by Liz
Pg. 235.....

"He did not belong here. Half way up Hildegarde Road he knew he dared not confront his father. He had no right here. His presence was intrusive, impudent. How could he tell his father to come home? Suppose his father answered: you get the hell out of here? And that he knew, was exactly what his father would say. He had best turn around and go home for he was moving in a sphere beyond his experience. Up there with his father was a woman. That made it different. Now he remembered something: once when he was younger he sought his father at the poolhall. His father rose from the table and followed him outside. Then he put his fingers around my throat not hard but meaning it, and he said: don’t do that again.

He was afraid of his father, scared to death of his father."


Do you think this dynamic between father and son still exists in 2007 or is it a thing of the past?

Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2007 5:15 pm
by Betty Sue
Hmmmmnnn.......maybe I can get things started, but I sure can't come up with anything authoritative on this. :dunce: Arturo's situations involved humiliating his father and kind of butting into his business so I could certainly see where that would lead to a fear of retribution!
I would guess that the father/son dynamic may not be too changed by the times. I think fathers and sons of today are often closer than in the past, but I think the father figure looms so large in a son's life that it may engender fear, including fear of not being good enough. And some fathers are so demanding, sometimes wanting their sons to become everything that they themselves couldn't, that they strike fear into the kid's heart. Many fathers probably use fear as a control factor. (And then there are the mothers trying to instill a fear of Dad: "Wait until your father gets home, young man!!" :eyebrow:

Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2007 6:36 pm
by Liz
You are a brave one, Betty Sue. Thanks for starting us off. :cool: I was beginning to think no one would answer this question.

Betty Sue wrote:And then there are the mothers trying to instill a fear of Dad: "Wait until your father gets home, young man!!"


Then there are the mothers like me, who enable their boys to be soft. I can’t say that I have been witness to much physical fear instilled in young men. But I have been witness to the dad who pushes his kid into sports or expects a certain level of strength, aggressiveness or courage in the boy. And I have certainly witnessed a few men in my time who dislike being questioned or challenged by their sons or wives.

I do think they are closer, as you said, than in the past. It seems more acceptable today for a child to express his/her opinion and engage in adult conversation.

Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2007 7:49 pm
by Parlez
Well, bullies will be bullies no matter what; they'll always prey on the weak and defenseless. A son who has to attempt to retrieve his father and bring him back home for the sake of the family's survival faces the same awful sense of fear and peril today as any day. It would be nice to think, however, that adult men don't act like Svevo in today's world and therefore kids like Arturo don't have to put themselves in harm's way. But that's a stretch. What has changed is that today Arturo and his family would have recourse to social services, law enforcement and other agencies, so Arturo wouldn't have to bear the brunt of his father's bad behavior and bullying temperment all by himself.

Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2007 8:32 pm
by Linda Lee
Yes, unfortunately, this dynamic does still exist today. While there are social services and agencies to help many families are too embarassed or live in too much fear to ask for that help.

Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2007 9:35 pm
by nebraska
Fathers are bigger than kids, with deep voices that can be very loud. I am sure there are kids all over the world who are still intimidated/fearful of fathers. I think it is a natural thing, just by virtue of size. And then there is a certain competitive struggle as the child becomes a man, an equal......

It is obvious from the way this book is written that Arturo saw his father as a bit of a brute........whether that view was objective or not isn't really clear.

I don't think things change that much, I suppose there have always been some hands-on gentle fathers and some bully types. What may change the balance somewhat these days is the divorce rate and the number of fathers who live with their sons only part time and aren't involved in the day to day business of child rearing. That may change the stern disciplinarian image quite a bit.

Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2007 10:22 pm
by Liz
I think Child Services has helped quite a bit in the case of physical abuse—maybe not in all cases. But back in the 20’s I doubt that children or wives had such support.

nebraska wrote:Fathers are bigger than kids, with deep voices that can be very loud. I am sure there are kids all over the world who are still intimidated/fearful of fathers. I think it is a natural thing, just by virtue of size. And then there is a certain competitive struggle as the child becomes a man, an equal......

I have to say that my son (even though he is now bigger than my DH) still seems to be fearful of his dad. It is not because he has ever done anything physical towards him, though. Nor has he punished him that harshly. So it is a mystery to me. I think that maybe there is something about the male figure….the patriarch….that carries such weight.

Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2007 10:34 pm
by DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
Liz, I can relate to your sports comment. I have seen that so often with my boys involved in sports. The fathers living through the sons and pushing them, often bullying them, thinking they are making them stronger. The male dynamic is one I will never totally understand. :eyebrow:

I do think families have more resources today but sadly too many still fall through the cracks.

Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2007 11:42 pm
by gemini
nebraska wrote:
I don't think things change that much, I suppose there have always been some hands-on gentle fathers and some bully types. What may change the balance somewhat these days is the divorce rate and the number of fathers who live with their sons only part time and aren't involved in the day to day business of child rearing. That may change the stern disciplinarian image quite a bit.


Nebraska, I think you have nailed the main difference right here. The fathers that were truly abusive are more likely to be the divorced fathers who get their kids on weekends now. They don't have the hands on family control they had in the past. Having said this there are still exceptions where women today live like in the past and never consider the social services available to them and their children.

Liz and Dithot, I do think the comments you both made about sports do seem to have become how todays fathers feel they are contributing to make sure their son is seen as acceptable in male society. Is it that they must teach them something male and they dont have to to out and hunt down thier dinner so sports is the replacement? They figure their mom can feed and raise them but they need the fathers influence to give them that bit of male confidence that mom can't pass along.

My dad wasn't into sports but insisted that my brothers had weights and gymnastics to make sure they were muscular and could take care of themselves. My mother was always the disciplinarian and my father the one to have fun with. My father was always very muscular and this may have been why he never used anything but words for discipline. Of course my tiny mom had no problem chasing us with a fly swatter. My upbringing would be the total opposite of Svevo and Marias child rearing.

Posted: Wed Sep 12, 2007 7:47 am
by DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
gemini, that is an interesting analogy. Sometimes I think males must have a competition gene.

Posted: Wed Sep 12, 2007 2:49 pm
by nebraska
gemini wrote:
nebraska wrote:
I don't think things change that much, I suppose there have always been some hands-on gentle fathers and some bully types. What may change the balance somewhat these days is the divorce rate and the number of fathers who live with their sons only part time and aren't involved in the day to day business of child rearing. That may change the stern disciplinarian image quite a bit.


Nebraska, I think you have nailed the main difference right here. The fathers that were truly abusive are more likely to be the divorced fathers who get their kids on weekends now. They don't have the hands on family control they had in the past.


That is an interesting point. However, I was thinking more along the lines of the non-abusive fathers (not every divorced man is a monster) who get their kids for weekends or whatever and become the Disneyland-father type in an attempt to keep their children's affection. There is no raising of the voice or threats of discipline because he can't waste his limited time with his kids being unpleasant. .

Posted: Wed Sep 12, 2007 7:34 pm
by DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
Which isn't much help either!

Posted: Wed Sep 12, 2007 8:48 pm
by stroch
What I found so confusing is that despite his fear of his father, he was still on Dad's side in the Maria/Svevo conflict.

The father treated him like dirt, but the son still respected him and was proud of him.

It is totally beyond my understanding. I can point to archetypes, and find intellectual accommodations for his behavior, and "explain" it, but really, I cannot enter into the male mind enough to accept it.

Some weird testosterone poisoning.

And, sadly, in the inner city students I teach, the abusive male is an admired figure, and kids are proud of "gansta" behavior in friends and relatives.

Posted: Wed Sep 12, 2007 8:56 pm
by DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
stroch, I had the same problem. The only thing I can think of is that, as a male, he wanted/needed to identify with a male patriarch. There weren't any other males in his life that could fill that role so the only other adult in his life (that we see) would have been his mother, a female, and that would have been unthinkable given the times. He probably also needed to justify his father's horrible behavior by rationalizing that it was the right thing to do.

Posted: Wed Sep 12, 2007 9:04 pm
by stroch
Thats true -- there isn't really anyone else for him. The parent's of his schoolmates do not accept him, and there are no male relatives or neighbors who are admirable. I did not think of that.