Sharlene, the sixteen year old girl, decides that she does not want to go to university as her father intends, she wants to leave and travel. But she has not worked up the courage to tell her father. When all of a sudden her brother comes home for a visit and tells her father that he is dropping out of school. The second short story “The Charmer” written by Budge Wilson is about a charming young boy who can charm his way through, Winnifred, his little sister claims he is “Enchanted”.
He has grown up to be the same old charmer with expectations from his family and most certainly his father. Parental expectations always follow the eldest sibling; it’s the person who chooses whether or not to exceed them. In both short stories, the father is the one building the expectations. The eldest sibling who are the brothers, Zachary and Greg, both fail to reach their fathers expectations for them.
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In the end Winnifred and Sharlene both realize their brother had helped them with their failures towards their fathers.
Expectations can be a big thing to follow through, when failed to accomplish, it can cause a positive impact on those we never expected to influence the first place. Initially “Brother Dear” and “The Charmer” both have parental expectations. “It’s April and next year’s grade twelve, then its escape to University of Alberta like my brothers, like Dad wants” (Friesen Page 26) This quotation is indeed an example of parental expectations from Sharlene’s father towards her and her brothers and the strict plan for their education after high school.
It expresses a strict authority figure within the father and his children and their education. Dad puts his coffee cup down very slowly, wearing his calm look, but I can tell the word “vegetarian” threw him because of the way his eyes dart around, like he’s trying to focus on something he lost. “ I’m more concerned about your economics marks than what sort of food fetish you’ve taken up. What about it? ” (Friesen Page 30) Greg’s father expects him to be a non-vegetarian, environmentally friendly boy who follows through university with outstanding grades.
While in “The Charmer”… In both short stories, neither brother meets up to their father’s expectations and fail to do so. “So I’m paying your rent and tuition at the best university in the west so you can fart away your time, huh? Ruin your future? Where’s your brains? Maybe they just ‘couldn’t make it,’ huh? (Friesen Page 30) expresses the father’s anger towards his son Greg and his failure to make it to his university exams. “Some things are more important” (Friesen Page 30) Greg tries to explain to his father the reason why he skipped his exam. And you don’t have to pay my rent anymore,” Greg says. “I got a job. I’m going tree planting this summer”. (Friesen Page 31) Greg keeps on giving reason to support his decision. Well, his ruining his life! If he’d work at it- if you weren’t so damn lazy! What about when winter comes, and you can’t plant trees anymore, huh? Thought of that? It’s those friends of yours, those ideas they’ve got you into. It’s no better than a cult. (Friesen Page 31). Greg’s father continues to express his furious anger against Greg and his foolish ideas on how to live.
He is finding ways to hurt Greg and point out all the errors in Greg’s future plan for his own life. “Sorry. I’m sorry. Is that all my family can ever do? Point out what’s wrong with me? ” (Friesen Page 32) Sharlene notices her brother Greg leaves the house with his laundry and starts walking beside him trying to apologize for their father’s attitude. When Greg starts complaining about their father. “Be something. Be something. That’s all I ever get from dad and now from you. ” (Friesen Page 32) The expectation of his father is ongoing and never ending.
In contrast with “Brother Dear”, “The Charmer is very similar in many ways. “ …. However the fails of both brothers led to an open eye and a positive effect with their sisters. “No…no, you’re not nothing. ” If going to university is to make something out of you, what are you before you go? Being in grade eleven is no big deal, but it doesn’t feel like nothing. I don’t feel like nothing. (Friesen Page 32) Sharlene is figuring out the truth about life, the thing about university that her and her family believed was all about forming who we are when in reality we already know part of what we are when we start.
But I like you the way you are, I say, and for one long sick second, I think I’m lying. Then I think that if Greg was different, he wouldn’t be Greg at all. Without Greg, who would I annoy? Who’d freak me out with his bizarre clothes and ideas? Life wouldn’t be as much fun. We smile at each other, and the sun is shining in my eyes. (Friesen Page 33) Sharlene discovers the true side of her brother Greg and points out all the cons if he were different than what he is. By that said, Sharlene has learned the truth of the choices Greg has made with his life. The charmer….. As a result to this essay,