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“A Visit to Grandmother” and “My Father Sits in the Dark” Essay

Family is group of persons closely related by blood. As children, parents raise and teach values and many important lessons of life to innocent youngsters. As adults, each individual still calls his or her family members when the individual had a bad day or needs someone to talk to. However, despite how close a family is, family members still encounter problems communicating with each other. For example, in both stories, “A Visit to Grandmother” by William Melvin Kelley and “My Father Sits in the Dark” by Jerome Weidman, the characters dealt with communication problems within their families. In the story, “A Visit to Grandmother,” Chig and his father, Charles, decided to go back home to visit their family.

When Chig and Charles arrived home, Charles’ family was ecstatic to see him and they started reminiscing about the old times. During this visit, Charles realized how his lack of communication had caused him years of separation from his family. Additionally, in “My Father Sits in the Dark,” the main character was curious about why his father often sat alone in the darkness staring at the corner. From this story, we can see how the father and son’s relationship progressed. From my experiences, language and cultural differences can also destroy a family’s relationship. Families may encounter many relationship problems due to a lack of communication.

A family will fall apart when family members do not converse with each other frequently. Nowadays, people are so occupied with their lives that people do not even have time to sit at the dinner table to enjoy a family dinner. People often feel that it is difficult to find time to spend with family members. For example, in the story “A Visit to Grandmother,” Charles’s mother failed to divide her time equally between her children. Charles felt unloved as his mother usually spent more time and energy on GL, Charles’ brother. At the age of fifteen, Charles left his family because he thought “nobody loved [him]” (453). During Charles’ visit back home, he accused his mother of playing favorites with his brother. However, contrary to what Charles thought, his mother explained, “I paid more mind to GL. I had to.

GL could-a ended up swinging if I hadn’t. But you was smarter…and I tried to show you that by letting you do what you wanted to do” (465). In this argument, Charles finally confronted his mother about his feelings towards her past actions. This confrontation revealed the problems of their relationship, which is lack of communication. Since Charles grew up in a big family, he was unable to receive the same attention as his siblings. This misunderstanding would never have occurred if Charles and his mother had talked more frequently. Nevertheless, as family members spend more quality time together, their bonds will strengthen and the family will be more unified.

Open and honest communication can resolve a lot of family relationship troubles. By talking, family members can express their troubles, interests, and love for one another. Effective communication is the key aspect to maintain a strong and healthy family. For example, in the short story, “My Father Sits in the Dark,” the author, Weidman, introduced to the readers a relationship where communication brings the father and son’s relationship together. The narrator noticed that his father likes to sit alone in the dark. On multiple occasions, the narrator asked his father why he does not turn on the lights. After persistent questioning, the narrator’s father finally answered, “I can’t get used to lights. We didn’t have lights when I was a boy in Europe. (210)” By talking to his father, the son found out that the reason that his father likes to sit in the dark is because his father is not use to artificial lights.

Afterwards, the narrator felt content that his father was able to share with him his past. “My heart skips a beat and I catch my breath happily. I begin to think I understand,” thought the son gladly (211). The relationship between the father and son had developed because they were able to communicate with each other. The son communicated with his father effectively and was finally able to understand the reason his father sat quietly in the darkness. Listening is also a part of communication. The son cared about his father and took time out of his life to learn more about his father. The son felt satisfied that he and his father can talk and share stories and memories with each other. Without communication, family members are not able to understand each other and thus are secluded to their own world.

Sometimes, communication problems can occur between parents and children because of language and cultural communication differences. For instance, my family immigrated to the United States when I was eight years old. As I grew up in the United States, I became influenced by the American culture. By coming here at such a young age, my Chinese deteriorated; consequently, I found it hard to communicate with my parents. I remember one Friday night as I was watching “Friends” on television; my father came over and started watching with me. However as the show progressed, my father did not understand the plot, so he left to watch his Chinese news. When he abandoned me, I felt unworthy. I realized that he did not understand the show but I wished that he would have stayed to enjoy my company. However, instead of telling him that, I just kept the feeling buried inside of me. Even today, my father and I do not communicate as much as I would like to. My poor Chinese and his poor English prevent us from becoming very close.

Communication in a family is a key aspect to the unity of the family. Every family encounters communication problems. In “A Visit to Grandmother,” Charles’ mother explained that she loves him as much as she loves GL. However, Charles still had a hard time believing his mother and accepting her explanation. Charles will never forgive her, because she is “thirty years too late. (491)” In this case, Charles and his mother both have faults. Charles could have shared with his mother what was bothering him; Charles’ mother could have spent more quality time with Charles. When communication is scarce in a family, family members have no way of understanding each other’s problems and thoughts.

Meanwhile, in the short story, “My Father Sits in the Dark,” at first the father was reluctant to share with his son his past. However, only after communicating, the son was able to understand the truth. Family adds stability to a person’s life. Family is a place of warmth and comfort, which can not be easily substituted by other places. Without communication, family connection can be easily destroyed and family relationship can be separated. From my own life, I do not understand my father because we don’t communicate regularly. Only with each family member’s inputs and efforts in communicating with each other, positive family relationship can be built and maintained.


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