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"Arm Wrestling With My Father" By Brad Manning And "Shooting Dad" By Sarah Vowell

Essay by 24  •  June 14, 2011  •  1,366 Words (6 Pages)  •  3,452 Views

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“ARM WRESTLING WITH MY FATHER” BY BRAD MANNING AND “SHOOTING DAD” BY SARAH VOWELL

In these two stories, both authors depict the condition of his/her parent/child relationship in spatial terms and their perception of gradual changes by expressing the hardship of understanding affection from each of their father during their childhood. Although these two are connected, each author has different conditions in terms of relationship with their own father and ways of describing to depict their stories. After analyzing each story, I believe that Brad Manning’s “Arm Wrestling with My Father” wins over Sarah Vowell’s “Shooting Dad” in terms of sharing with the readers about his relationship with his father more vividly.

Brad Manning’s “Arm Wrestling with My Father” is about a father and son relationship which takes us not only around the physical aspect of the family but also the dynamics of psychological effects on the family. In the opening scene, we were presented by the idea of a whole “predator and prey” situation where Manning’s father was the dominant being. This takes place after a match of arm wrestling between Manning and his dad and having himself lose in the end. “…I always had to lose” (BM 126) refers to the fact that he had never won a single match of him against his father in his whole entire life. The positioning involved Manning’s dad being on top of him and rubbing the essence of defeat towards his son who was lying on his back, proves that his dad has a “superiority” attitude as he was mocking on the “inferior”. In this story, readers could see that Manning puts up with the tradition of arm wrestling not because he enjoyed it as much, but only does it to win the match so that he would finally be accepted by his father and mostly, himself. Manning also managed to establish the fact that although during the moment of arm wrestling they are physically close but emotionally they are out of sync. Manning also illustrates about the differences between his father and him, making a point that he is not like his father who is too much of a вЂ?man’ and instead he is a person who loves art and poetry and into lacrosse. As he gets older, Manning finally achieved what he has always wanted, which is to defeat his dad in their activity of arm wrestling. Although it may have been something that he had always wanted to achieve, Manning’s achievement was nothing but a pyrrhic victory. He tells readers that he felt guilty for winning instead of embracing his victory because he realizes that during the whole event some part of him was rooting on his dad to win. Having the motive of вЂ?keeping the legend alive’, Manning actually felt sorry after seeing his dad losing for the first time. This incident puts their relationship into a turn, having Manning’s father being gentler towards him on the day he left for the airport. That was when Manning realized that he has taken over his father’s place. Without a doubt, Manning did a great job in terms of effectively sharing his emotional experience, which truly grabs readers by heart.

Sarah Vowell’s “Shooting Dad” is of her differences between her and her father who happens to be a gunsmith. In her opening scene, Vowell described to her house as a “house divided” (SV134) where it is divided into two sides which one part of the house was the Democrat and the other was the Republican. She also illustrates how her house is the “United States of Firearms” (SV 135) and how they are “messy people”, with area full of guns and hers full of instruments. From this she depicts once again the differences between her father and herself, acknowledging readers that they barely have anything in common. As Vowell grows up, she finds herself siding against her father than with him and this is the main conflict of the story. She shares her thoughts of seeing the gun as a killing-machine, while her father sees them as her favorite tool. This proves that Vowell had always been tough minded the moment she had her hands down and decided that guns were not for her. Where else, her twin sister, Amy, shares her father’s enthusiasm for firearms, making her feel sort of like and outcast in the family. Later in the story, Vowell realizes that they do share some similarities, although both of them have totally different passions. This was shown by her during the event of accompanying her dad to shoot off his dad’s cannon at Montana. She later finds out that she “…was no longer his adversary” (SV 139) and stated that she “…was his accomplice” (SV 139). She depicts the irony of the whole situation by admitting to readers that she was indeed, liking it. “... what’s worse, I was liking it.” (SV 139). She

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