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How Do We Forgive Our Fathers (Poem) - Essay Example

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Name Instructor Class 8 July 2013 Masculinity and Fatherhood in Lourie’s “How Do We Forgive Our Fathers” When a boy grows up in a man’s world, is he better off because of it? In the poem “How Do We Forgive Our Fathers,” Dick Lourie discusses the strengths and weaknesses of fathers, with emphasis on their faults…
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How Do We Forgive Our Fathers (Poem)

Download file to see previous pages... The speaker of the poem is most probably a son, a son who faces the double dilemmas of knowing himself and knowing his father, without losing touch with his own identity. The poem suggests that a father’s masculinity defines his personality, which in turn, shapes his attitudes and behaviors as a husband and a father to his family; in other words, masculinity develops and delimits his destiny, a destiny that is intertwined with his children’s identities. In the first stanza, the poem looks at his father through the haze of the past and the future. The first line states: “How do we forgive our Fathers?” (Lourie 1). These words ask all children about forgiving their fathers. “Fathers” is capitalized, which makes it more personal because a son would say “Father” not “father.” It is in plural form too, which connotes the universality of having fathers as a shared experience. The first line also evokes the image of a father who must be forgiven. The speaker no longer asks if people need to forgive their fathers, but focuses on the process, the “how.” Apparently, the speaker does not know the process of forgiving someone as important in his life as a father. The poet continues the thought to the second line, which states: “Maybe in a dream” (Lourie 2). ...
The future may be bleak when children have a hard time forgiving their fathers. The question of forgiveness is perceived with both hesitation and opportunity. The next few lines of the first stanza introduce the greatest faults of fathers in general. The third line continues to the idea of fathers’ deficiencies. It states: “Do we forgive our Fathers for leaving us too often or forever” (Lourie 3). Instead of answering the question “how,” the poet refers to the reasons why people have to forgive their fathers. The shift of the content from the “how” to the “why” provides a clearer explanation of the context of forgiveness. What have fathers done to be forgiven? The poet answers that fathers sometimes leave their families too much or forever, wherein “too often” means they always have to go to work, and for their spare time, they drink or spend it with their colleagues and friends. This aspect of fatherhood highlights class, race, and gender issues. The working class, especially low-income minority groups, spends their lifetime working to make ends meet. As fathers, the patriarchal society expects them to be the breadwinners, which is a gender issue. As men of the house, they must make money, or else, society questions their masculinity. To leave “forever,” on the contrary, means that the father has abandoned his family. He has sired a child and left him/her to his/her mother. This kind of fatherhood is criticized, but not as blatantly as mothers who abandon their children. Somehow, a masculine world condones abandoning fathers as an acceptable norm. These reasons for forgiving fathers are important because they undermine the essence of a father. A father who is gone or almost always gone can hardly be a father in ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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