In family life, there is often a lack of communication between parents and their children. Although parental love is always present, children often misunderstand or are unaware of their parent’s love for them, especially the father’s love. Fathers often try to keep their strong figure as the head of the households and their love is usually implicit. The three short stories, “Penny in the Dust,” by Ernest Buckler, “A Secret Lost in the Water,” by Roch Carrier and “Lies My Father Told Me,” by Ted Allan all share a similar theme – relationship between fathers and sons.
The father-son relationship portrayed in each of these three stories is awkward and distant which prevents the characters from entering into the other’s world and thought. The three stories’ settings take place in Canadian rural regions in the 1920’s and feature relationship between little boys and their farmer fathers. In the first story, “Penny in the Dust”, Peter is a young boy who comes back home for the funeral of his father.
He and his sister recall the event when the family thought Peter was lost while he was hiding in his room because he lost the shining penny his father had given him. Peter remembers the time when his father and he loved each other very much but did not express this feeling toward each other. In the beginning, his father does not understand him or his silly and childish games. Similarly, Peter is unsure of his father because his father never showed his emotions. At the end of the story, both he and his father begin to understand each other.
After his dad finds the penny, Peter reveals his silly game. The boy tells his father about the secret fantasies he had, was imagining finding a treasure and that the penny was gold so he could buy his father a machine to help him finish work early and enjoy time together in a big automobile they could drive to town. Peter’s father finally begins to empathize with his son and treasure his valuable dream by keeping penny for many years. During the father’s funeral, Peter finds the coin again in this father’s best suit pocket.
Peter has mixed emotions when he sees the bright, shiny and new penny. He realizes that his father had never forgotten that day; the two of them sitting together in the sand and expressing their love for each other. Ultimately, this story reveals that love is not always expressed verbally. The penny is the symbol of love and dream between Peter and his father. In the second story, “A Secret Lost in the Water,” written by Roch Carrier, who is also the protagonist of this short story. He explores the importance of tradition in relation to formal ‘schoolbook’ knowledge.
His father was an expert in finding fresh water source by using a mere alder branch. His father also tried to pass this skill to his son; however, as the son grows up and become old, the son forgets the life lesson he was once taught. When he is given an opportunity to remember the talent passed down by his father in his early childhood, he struggles to perform the secret. As he struggles to hear the gushing water and the branch to writhe, a fellow farmer says, “Nowadays, fathers can’t pass on anything to the next generation.
This quote is very powerful, because it directly points to the moral of the story: not all fathers can pass talents to the sons. In addition, the farmer too experiences this reality, for he has the finest farm in the area, and his children did not want to inherit the farm which their father spent his whole life preparing for them. The father wants to teach his son a lesson of life and the gift of father is priceless to his son. The third story, “Lies My Father Told Me”, is about David.
He remembers good times he had with his grandfather when he was growing up in a Jewish neighborhood in Montreal. The grandfather is a junk dealer, very religious, and he teaches his grandson many things about life and does not treat his grandson as a child. Throughout the story, we can see what a wonderful relationship exists between the grandson and his grandfather. On the other hand, there is some conflict between father and son in which the son thinks his father only tells him lies.
The father, mother and grandmother are on one side: they want to move the stable, but David, grandfather are on another side: love the horse Ferdeleh and do not want to move the stable. At the end of the story, the boy does not believe what his father told him because he thinks his grandfather and Ferdeleh would never go to anywhere without him. He does not know that his father loves him so much and is trying not to tell him the painful true that his grandfather and his horse have passed away. In general, the son in each story realizes the lesson of life after the significant person of his life has passed away.
It is too late for the children to understand the value of those lessons. Until the son grow up and look back at a period of childhood, they understand the people who live with true love and always tried to protect him from pain. These three authors – Buckler, Carrier and Allan – all use fiction to tell us the scared relationship between fathers and sons. They send us a common message: if the fathers and sons have more communication with one another, the sons would have an unforgettable childhood and love would never be in question.