Carver, “Father” (1961)

A Hemingwayesque story of a page and a half devastating in the simplicity of its indictment of a mother’s possible faithlessness or the father’s disconnection from his family as the family gathers around her latest of four children, the firs boy. It’s the three sisters, the grandmother and the mother cooing around the crib until one of the girls says something about the nose: “It looks like somebody’s nose.” Not her mother’s. Not her father’s. Sister Phyllis immediately tries to divert the cooing to something else. Anything but “who the baby looks like.” Because “He doesn’t look like anybody,” she says, a realization she has trouble making sense of. Another girl says he looks like her daddy, but her daddy who looks like “nobody,” Phyllis says, crying briefly. All the while the father was at the kitchen table, his back to the scene. “He had turned around in his chair and his face was white and without expression.” Is the baby his? Is he just a blank?

Toyon, Spring 1961, Will You Please Be Quiet Please

Comments are closed.