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“A Conversation with My Father” Response Essay

In the short story “A Conversation with My Father,” there are two narratives intertwined. This story brings to light a generation gap between the past and the present. This generation gap leaves the dying father and his writer daughter with different views not only in life but also in literature. Paley’s use of characters exemplifies her efforts to combine realism with experimentation. This story is a great example of her style of writing: telling stories through the use of characters. Paley blends real life and literature, portraying her characters as practical people with realistic problems. Every character has his/her own unique opinion on life. The two narratives mirror each other in the sense that they are about the relationships between parents and their children.

The daughter hates the kind of story her father wants, while the father rejects her tale because he sees in it her inability to face tragic realities of fiction and life. Their different attitudes towards the possibility of opportunities and change, fictional or real, stem from their different worldviews and experiences. Not only are the intertwined narratives paralleled, but the overall story might also reflect Paley’s relationship with her father. Did Paley have issues with her father regarding her career choice? In the story the daughter writes for her dying father, the father she would rather have surfaces as the mother who uses drugs as a mean of being closer to her son. This idea might be Paley’s way of expressing her desire to have a father like the mother her protagonist created. In a way, Paley puts herself into her work as the protagonist and uses the hidden message in her work as a way to express her problems.

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