Like Father, Like Daughter

7 July 2016

Let’s face it; there comes a time in life when teenagers cannot stand their parents. Arguments ensue, many things that should never be said are spoken aloud, and the teenagers think that they have nothing in common with their parents. However, when Sarah Vowell shares her experience in the essay “Shooting Dad,” she gives the audience a complete, retrospective look at her teenage feuds, which contrasts her relationship with her father today.

Vowell uses her past experiences with her father in order to emphasize the strong bond that they both now have, while acknowledging that even though teenagers may clash with their parents over their beliefs or hobbies, they will still have something, be it mannerisms or interests that connects them to their parents. She begins her essay by introducing the reader to the arguments that she and her father used to have. Vowell makes her aversion to guns and her father’s love of them, as well as their difference in opinions, clear from the beginning of the essay in order to demonstrate how poor she and her father’s relationship used to be.

Like Father, Like Daughter Essay Example

In “Shooting Dad,” this difference is clearly defined with Vowell’s descriptions of what she calls, “jealously guarded totalitarian states in which each of us [Vowell and her father] declared ourselves dictator” (Vowell, 2). By using this wording, Vowell creates the scenario of war, making the reader question the extent of this feud. Later on, Vowell states after revisiting the memory of shooting a gun, “And, because I believed in the devil, I… whispered under my breath, ‘Satan, I rebuke thee’” (Vowell, 4).

When Vowell says this, the audience can finally feel the total impact of how different she seems from her father, in that while her father loves guns, she cannot stand them. Vowell also states that some of her fights with her father contained words that would have been better left unsaid (Vowell, 4). This portrays a negative connotation of the relationship that Vowell has with her father at this time, yet she contrasts this view throughout the essay using her relationship with her father today.

Vowell uses more recent events between herself and her father to convey the bond that she currently shares with him, providing a contrast with how they got along when she was younger. According to the essay, Vowell’s father now calls her jokingly on Election Days, to proclaim that he has cancelled out her vote; Vowell then goes on to speak about how she and her father were sometimes unable to have a polite conversation (Vowell, 2).

These more current events that Vowell gives prove that she and her father have begun to respect each other’s opinion, and sets the foundation for a playful relationship, rather than the distant bond that had been between them in the past. Listening to Vowell read her essay on NPR, the fun bond between father and daughter is further solidified. At 10:34 in the reading, Vowell laughs as her dad explains why he’s able to shoot the cannon into a park (Chicago Public Media). Her laughter is natural, and suggests that she is genuinely attempting to understand why he loves firearms so much.

When she tells her dad, “Good shot,” she realizes that she has actually begun to partly admire her father’s work and enjoys this time with her dad (Vowell, 7). This leads to Vowell searching for and finding a common ground with her father, in which both could talk about the experience comfortably and enjoy it. When talking about the past, Vowell leaves clues as to how identical she and her dad are, which lead up to the final epiphany that she has in the woods while cannon-shooting with her dad.

Vowell’s first indication that she and her dad have things in common is when she is telling about the “territories” that she and her dad have. Both areas are described as “messy disaster areas,” each with navigable mazes designed with each person’s objects of interest, while the walls boasted even more paraphernalia (Vowell, 2-3). In doing this, Vowell lets the reader catch on to one of the more subtle resemblances that she shares with her father: their mannerisms. She portrays this a couple more times, in that both are stubborn and stick firmly to their opinions, before she has a revelation.

In the woods, two hikers look at her equipment in the same fashion that others look at her father’s handiwork (Vowell, 7). Here, Vowell realizes that she carries the same sort of personality and mannerisms that her father has, allowing her to look past many differences and become an ally to her father, rather than constant opposition. This common ground is what led Vowell to agree to her father’s final plan. In finding common ground with her father, Vowell explains how this newfound neutrality has enabled her to agree to her father’s final work of art.

When Vowell explains about the cannon, and why she finds it tolerable, she says, “I can get behind the cannon because… It’s unwieldy and impractical, just like everything else I care about” (Vowell, 8). In bringing father and daughter together for one common pastime, this cannon is essentially the essence of Vowell and her father’s relationship in that it symbolizes mutual respect and the loving bond between parent and child. Vowell also claims that when her father dies, “I will light the fuse.

But I will not cover my ears. Because… I want it to hurt” (Vowell, 8). By using such a charged statement, Vowell intends for the reader to understand that while she intends to feel the emotional pain of her father’s passing by extending it into aural pain, she also wants to respect and honor another aspect that she and her father had in common: a love of noise. This pain is also a reference to what the cannon stands for, in that the bond she and her father shared is severed, but not gone, when his ashes leave the cannon.

This helps to tie the entire essay together, and to help prove the main point of the essay. Throughout the essay “Shooting Dad,” Sarah Vowell tells the audience of the many arguments she and her father had, contrasting these tales with the more current bond that she and her father have assumed. In doing this, she accentuates how strong and playful their bond has become. Then, Vowell began to note the slight similarities that she and her father shared, which ultimately came to light while she helped her dad fire his cannon.

Through this common ground, Vowell proves the point that everyone has something that connects them to their parents, and then pushes it further by utilizing the cannon, which had brought her and her father together, as a way to honor his memory and the similarities that they had. Vowell accomplishes in driving home the point that no matter what we do or say, there is something that ties parent and child together, and makes the saying, “Like father, like daughter,” true.

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