My Father’s Life
Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them” Unfortunately, some children aren’t able to grow up with both parents around, and in other cases both parents exist with multiple problems. With this happening it is hard for children to actually complete their goals and actually do what they want when they are older, thus not allowing them to achieve greatness. While both Banks and Carver grew up to become writers their family lives are very different.
Banks and Carver deal with their childhood memories, alcoholism, and fathers passing away differently. While Banks and Carver were growing up they lived very different lives. Banks grew up in a home with only his mother, his father had moved out. Although he was close with his father, in the text, it is much more apparent that his mother is the main caregiver. Banks remembers his mother as someone who tells many stories, “it’s as if she hopes you will love her more easily if she is associated somehow with fame” (288, Russell Banks), most of which are untrue.
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Banks’ tells the reader that unlike his mother, he didn’t tell stories. The one story Banks’ father did tell ended up being a lie in the end. “The story simply was not true. My father had made it up” (286, Russell Banks), even though this is not a big a deal, it mattered to Banks at the time. Having a parent make up a story so you feel as though you fit into the family is not a common thing. Perhaps Banks’ father seen his lack of love for his son, and tried to create a story to bond himself and his son a little closer before his death.
Banks realizes that everyone is just looking to fit in somewhere into society, his mother especially. Banks writes, “She told me she had the female lead in the catamount high school senior play and sonny tufts had the male lead… ” (283, Russell Banks). At the end of the story Banks understand his mother’s need to feel as though she were higher up in society, perhaps filling areas in her life she felt were lacking. Banks even comes to understand that his mother needs to feel this way and listens to his stories even though they are all lies.
Carver describes his father’s journey throughout his life in a lot of detail, though his father had problems like alcoholism, it never seemed to disturb his goal of creating a financially stable life for his family. Carvers father’s failure to actually create a supreme living life for his family pushed him to lose his place in the world and ultimately made his life and health suffer too alcoholism. Banks and Carver both have parents who suffer from an alcohol problem, however, they both thrive from these situations very differently.
Carver watched his father suffer from alcoholism, and even succumbed to it himself. Carver’s parents fought often because of the alcohol to which they even considered sending Carver to his aunt’s house, “I remember my dad taking me into the bedroom, sitting me down on the bed, and telling me that I might have to go live with my Aunt LaVon for a while” (275, Raymond Carver), as he got older puzzle pieces started to fit together as to why Carver’s parents were always fighting; “One time she found someone else’s tube of lipstick on the floorboards along with a lacy handkerchief” (275, Raymond Carver).
Unlike Carver, Banks learned about the effects much differently, “My friend’s mother’s death, like my fathers, was caused by acute alcoholism and had been going on for years. What most suicides accomplish in minutes, my father and my friends mother took decades to do” (286, Russell Banks). Banks never fell into the habits like Carver did, however, the effects of alcoholism still played a role in their lives equally. In the end of Banks and Carvers stories, their fathers do pass away. They both dealt with the passing of their fathers differently.
Carver did not cry until after the ceremony was finished, “I began to weep for the first time since receiving the news” (280, Raymond Carver), as appose to Banks who admitted “When my father died, even though I had been seeing him frequently and talking with him on the phone almost every week, I did not miss him. ” (285, Russell Banks). Perhaps Carver only cried after the ceremony because throughout his life he felt partly ashamed of his father. Carver’s father had made several comebacks throughout his life, however, Carver also wants to learn from his father’s mistakes. “I remember the shame I felt when my third-grade teacher, Mr.
Wise, drove me home from school one day. I asked him to stop at the house just before ours, claiming I lived there. ” (275, Raymond Carver), Carver also hints towards not liking the fact his name and his father’s name were the same. “I was named Raymond Clevie Carver Jr. I hated the “junior” part” (272, Raymond Carver), it is clear he does not like the “junior” part because he was Junior to his father; his father being the first Raymond. Throughout the story, Banks explains to the reader how he interprets what his mother says, however, his father on the other hand did not tell stories.
Except for once, his father once told him about his name, which Banks discovers was only a lie. “At this moment, as I say this, I do love him, but it’s too late for the saying to make either of us happy. That is why I say the death of a parent is a terrible thing” (286, Russell Banks) perhaps Banks feels it is a bad time to say it because he feels it is too late to save their relationship. The death of a parent is a terrible thing, because you realize as you get older you drift apart, and you wish you could have called more often or created more memories while they were alive.
In Carver’s poem he writes, “Father, I love you, / yet how can I say thank you, I who can’t hold my liquor either/ and don’t even know the places to fish” (279, Raymond Carver), Carver did not know how to thank his father, because he did not know what to thank him for. Carver and his father did not have time to spend with each other, because Carver’s father spent so much time working and then drinking, there were never any memories of fishing because there was no time for such things. Unfortunately, when a parent dies, you question your relationship with one another.
Perhaps you could have done this together, or perhaps things would have been different had you spent more years together. For Carver and Banks this was the case, and they came out of the situation differently. Everyone in life goes through different situations, and regardless of what your situation is or was, this does not determine where you will end up in life. Banks and carver may have ended their lives as writers, but the how they lived their lives were very different.