Father to Son – Elizabeth Jennings


The poem presents a father’s illusions about his son. The father feels so helpless because he has not been able to understand his son’s emotional growth for some time, since his childhood. Though the father blames his son, it is the father who is really blamed. The same father who says that he does not understand his son also tells many things about his son for sure. This irony questions the father’s ingenuity and integrity. Who is responsible for the lack of understanding: father or son? The father says it is his son and the son is silent. We have to find out.

Before you Proceed
  • Generation gap is not a one-sided fact. It has two sides.
  • Have you clashed with your father/mother/elder brothers and sisters? Yes, most of us do. Why?
  • Because as children our negative egoism doesn’t allow us to understand or accept them.

Stanza 1

I do not understand this child
Though we have lived together now
In the same house for years. I know
Nothing of him, so try to build
Up a relationship from how
He was when small.

Notes

  • The father in the poem says that he has failed to understand his son because he could not grow with his son.
  • Probably, when the son grew differently, the narrow-minded father felt uneasy and indifferent. He didn’t make any attempt to understand the changed world where his son grew up.
  • The father, having failed to know the height of his son’s emotional growth, is trying to understand him as a child rather than attempting to understand what his son is at the moment.
  • This sort of a relationship that the father is trying to build with his son will do more harms than any good because the father will always think that his son is a little child and will not understand his actual person.
Questions & Answers
  1. Why doesn’t the father know anything of his son? Or – Give reasons for the failure of the father son relationship.
    The father has failed to understand his son because he could not grow with his son. When the son grew differently, the narrow-minded father felt uneasy and indifferent. He didn’t make any attempt to understand the changed world where his son grew up.
  2. What sort of a relation is the father trying to build with his son? What will be drawback of this relation?
    The father, having failed to know the height of his son’s emotional growth, is trying to understand him as a child rather than attempting to understand what his son is at the moment. This sort of a relationship that the father is trying to build with his son will do more harms than any good because the father will always think that his son is a little child and will not understand his actual person.
  3. Where did the father fail? How could have he escaped the failure?
    The father failed to understand his son. Instead of growing with his son, he attempted to build a relation with him understanding him as a little child whom he used to know and used to love.

Next – Stanza 2

Biju John is an educational writer, educator and the author of OM - The Otherwise Men. He gives live classes on Skype and Facebook. You can attend his 3 Day Classes (English & Business Studies) in Delhi, Bangalore, Qatar and Dubai. His Contact number is 91 9810740061.

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