A “Real Catch” of a Man
Although a normal relationship between a father and a son in most cases tends to be based on the critical principles of mentorship and mutual love, the author of the story under review presents a father as under-performing. In the story Powder, the author highlights the irregular relationship that exists between the father and son. The story is rooted on a broken home scenario that contributes significantly to the unhealthy relationship that the boy has with the father. In the entire plot, the boy is presented as being not only unhappy but also uncomfortable with the presence of the father. This has negative implications on the welfare of the boy during the first half of the story. He does not trust his father and makes persistent efforts to develop personal plans regarding the future. The negative feelings that he experiences makes him consider his father as being spontaneous; a feeling that was aggravated when they hit the road and realized that it was snowing heavily and therefore they could see neither the road nor the fail. Yet despite this ill representation that sees the father as unqualified from the son’s point of view, there are some indispensable rules to qualify a good father; a real man.
In the first half of the story, the father-son relationship is compounded by mistrust and heightened tension. The father shows some degree of irresponsibility and seems to be unaware of the risks that he takes in a bit to enjoy himself. To a great extent, the father is selfish and inconsiderate of the welfare of his son. An example in this respect pertains to the ski trip. At the sky resort, the boy seems resentful of his father. When skiing, the father enjoys the snow as well as the wind and the speed. In contrast, the boy defines the relative conditions as being bitter. He explains “snow whirled around us in bitter, blinding squalls, hissing like sand, and still we skied” (Wolff 20). When his father asks him to go for the very last turn, the boy is reluctant but follows him unwillingly. He asserts “there was no point in trying. I stuck on him like white on rice and did what he did and somehow made it to the bottom without sailing off the cliff” (Wolff 20). This is a clear indication that the boy does not enjoy the environment and arguably, he is being forced by his father to ski. When they hit the road and found out that it was closed, the boy is still resentful of his father and complains “we should have left before…Doctor” (Wolff 21). Apparently, the boy feels that the father does not care about his wellbeing. The uncaring feeling was further demonstrated when the father endangers their lives by crossing the barrier in to the fresh powder.
Regardless of these activities, the feeling of love for his son is apparent in the story. In this respect, it should be appreciated that since the author of the story is a male, he places undue emphasis on the fact that male figures need to be responsible in the society. The story begins with the boy’s flash about going to a club with his father without his mother’s permission. Considering that the father does not have custody of the boy, it is certain that the aim of the author is to portray the father as being reckless, irresponsible and unmindful of his son’s wellbeing. Alternatively, the father can be considered to be ignorant of the wellbeing of his son. This culminates in the son’s development of bitter feelings of resentment. The development of resentment also occurs when the father insists on the last run but they end up having numerous ‘last runs’. The feeling is so intense that the son starts thinking that “He (the father) was indifferent to my fretting” (Wolff 21). Since the author aligns his story to the son’s point of view, it is certain that there is some level of prejudice.
Arguably, from the father’s point of view, the prepositions could be totally different. In this regard, it is possible that the father might just be letting his son to have a different experience and lifestyle. In light of the social values that guide behavior and code of conduct, boys are generally expected to be outgoing as opposed to being reserved. They are encouraged to develop intrinsic toughness that can enable them to face the life’s challenges with ease. Thus by exposing the son to jazz music, the father could be making efforts to expose the son to a different experience that is fundamental for giving him a different perception to life from that of his peers. In addition, the father could just be trying to expose his son to a different kind of music culture that is presumably uncommon amongst his peers.
Alternatively, the father’s conduct in this regard could be based on the fact that he does not have custody over his son. In this respect, the father is not forced by any circumstances to discipline the son in any way. These conditions could also influence him to give his son the freedom by having fun with him. At this point, he could be assuming that the son does not have similar privileges when with his mother. Alternatively, he would be doing this out of the realization that he would not be affected in any way with the implications of his activities. In this consideration therefore, it can be argued that the author wishes to show that a typical male figure represented by the father needs to be responsible by being caring and mindful of the son’s wellbeing.
At the beginning of the story, the father makes a promise that he would bring the son home before Christmas dinner; “he promised, hand on heart, to take good care of me and have me home for dinner on Christmas Eve” (Wolff 20). However, the promised seemed impossible to keep because of the unexpected storm. At this point, the father shows a very important quality of a male that he lacked initially; responsibility. This is apparent in his argument with the trooper and the illegal removal of the barrier. This is an exemplification of courage and responsibility with respect to getting the son home as promised. Besides warning his son not to try the action in future, he tries hard to keep his word. The father told his son, “Don’t ever try this your self” (Wolff 21). This bears beneficial results as the relationship between him and the son improves (Wolff 21). In particular, the son begins to enjoy his company and considers him to be responsible after all. The son even responds to his joke “funny Doctor” (Wolff 21)
In the story Powder, the author lays particular emphasis on the need for a male figure in the society to exercise responsibility. During the first half of the story, the father is portrayed as being not only irresponsible but also uncaring and selfish. However, this changes during the second half when he exhibits a high degree of responsibility. He takes practical measures to get his son home as promised. From the father’s point of view, his initial exposure of his son to a club atmosphere and jazz music could have been influenced by the need to let him experience a different culture. The numerous ‘last runs’ could have been guided by the need to ‘harden’ his son as expected by societal values. In this consideration therefore, it can be concluded that indeed there are some indispensable rules that qualify the man in the story to be a father.
Wolff, Tobias. The Powder. Ed. Barnet, Sylvan, Burto, William and Cain, E William. A little Literature. Pearson Longman: New York, 2008