Strong relationships between fathers and sons can cause conflict and grief, as depicted in "My Papa's Waltz," "Barn burning," and "The Killings. The nature of the relationship between father and son in William Faulkner's Barn Burning is displayed in the first paragraph of the story. In general a father-son relationship would be built on genuine respect, love, loyalty, and admiration. These building blocks were absent in Abner and Sarty Snopes relationship. Sarty's loyalty to his father appeared to come from a long time fear of the consequences of not obeying his father's commands. If Abner had so little moral value to destroy a man's property, surely to protect himself from persecution he could destroy a man's life.
Sarty knew he "smelled cheese, and more." He smelled the "fierce pull of blood." Sarty knew he was also the son of the "barn burner." A name he heard hissing as they passed by boys in town. Sarty fought to defend his father and when hurt; he seemed to need the blood to remain for a while as a reminder of why he stayed with the man. Sarty viewed his father at times as "bloodless" and cut from "tin." Sarty could usually convince himself why his father was this way.
Was Sarty to become a man like his father? It seems to be the fear that Sarty may have worried about many times. Young boys usually acquire the desire at sometime in their life to simulate their fathers' actions, perspectives on life and mannerisms. Fathers are examples to how they would like their sons to be. Abner probably thought it was the only way to be.
Sarty reached for the positive in life the beauty of a day and the chance to be a better man than his father. He wanted to be a man of truth as seen when he told his father, he would have told the Justice of the Peace that his father had burned Mr. Harris' barn. This would have been a complete denial of any inherited traits from his father. Abner Snopes would not tell the truth if it meant he would suffer or be punished. He thought that he had paid the price of the war and now was his time to seek what was his. To him any man that would cross him and take him to court would be forever sorry. Abner took to the same treatment time and again and burned the barn of Major de Spain. This violent act of rage against this man and the area that Sarty loved would bring him to a deciding point in his young life.
He had to decide to go on protecting his father, or to make a break to live as he thought, suffering from which would certainly be isolation and regrets for a while. He made the break he had come to the point in life where he was becoming his own man.
In Andre Dubus "The Killings" Revenge, loss and consequences are explored. A jealous husband, angered by the fact that his estranged wife is involved in a new relationship, acts out in a presumable crime of passion and murders the man she was seeing. As a result of this crime, a father suffers the loss of his son and plots retaliation, which results in the killing of his son's murderer. Both men experience a loss and subsequently act out in revenge. The difference in the moral character of these two men is what appears to determine the fate of their consequences. The final words of the story indicate the loneliness he feels that he isn't even able to share with his wife. "...he shuddered with a sob that he kept silent in his heart" (Dubus 96). Killing Strout is not the end of the pain for Matt Fowler; it may give him a sense of revenge, but he is still feeling so alone and hurt.
The other Fowler children are left to believe that their brother's murderer has escaped trial and disappeared. Mrs. Fowler acknowledges this in the story when she says, "We can't tell the other kids. It'll hurt them, thinking he got away.
Finally, "My Papa's Waltz" The first poem, "My Papa's Waltz," by Theodore Roethke (Page 18) presents a clear picture of the young man's father, from line one. "Whiskey" on the father's breath is one of many clues in appearance that mold a rough image of this uneducated, blue-collar worker, possibly a European immigrant, as indicated by the "Waltz" in the title (Line 1). These traits are not necessarily related. They merely exist at once in the father's character. Additional signs of roughness are his hand, "battered on one knuckle"(11), and "a palm caked hard by dirt"(14). This is a man who has probably known only grueling labor. His few escapes likely consist of a drink or two when he gets home from a tough day and maybe something good on the radio. This idea of the father as an unrefined oaf is further reinforced by his actions. His missed steps injure the child's ear, while the father and son's "romping" causes the pans to slide "from the kitchen shelf"(6). As he "beat[s] time"(13) on the child's head we see very clearly that he is quite brutish and careless with the child, and oblivious to his environment. This suggests that the waltz is enjoyable for not only one, but both parties. One might wonder why it is that the boy so delights in these moments. This is obviously a crude, boorish man. He probably doesn't flush. He may even smell bad. Are these reasons to love one's father less? Certainly not in the eyes of a small boy. This young man's father may not be the most sensitive or perceptive man around, but he still seems to be a hero in the eyes of his son. Finally, the son recalls these words: "Then you waltzed me off to bed/ still clinging to your shirt"(16). After reading this poem, it is clear just how unconditional a child's love is.