A Horse For A Daughter: An Essay On Andre Dubus' "A Father's Story"

1513 words - 6 pages

Andre Dubus, the author of "A Father's Story," grew up in the ranching community of Haverhill, Massachusetts. As a boy, he was most likely taught not only the ways of the ranch and the animals, but also a sense of routine. Growing up with these routines gives someone a feeling of order, one that he may carry with him as he becomes an adult. After developing into an adult, he may choose to use those routines he was taught as a boy in his everyday life, doing the same things at the same times. A dilemma in doing this though, is that when one uses the same routines everyday, those routines might become his life, causing him to miss out on other important aspects of life he could be experiencing. An interruption in that routine may cause him to think about the choices he has made and whether they were the right ones. In the story, "A Father's Story," Andre Dubus shows when a man uses routine to fill the void he has within himself, his life might alter after a paternal relationship is sparked, causing him to realize that his everyday routines may not be enough to fill his hole.In the beginning of the story, Dubus uses farm and horse imagery to prove that a man may use daily routine to fill the void within himself. The main character and persona Luke Ripley describes some the things he does everyday. While talking about his mornings on the ranch he says, "When the hour ends [he] take[s] an apple or carrot and [he] go[es] to the stable and tack[s] up a horse." (459) Luke is letting the reader know how each of his mornings go on his ranch. Since his wife and kids are gone, he lives by himself and in order to keep busy, he does the same things every morning. Luke uses his routine with the horses to keep himself going everyday. The persona continues to tell the reader further details about his mornings in the stables. After "[he] take[s] an apple or carrot and [he] go[es] to the stable, he says that, "The barn is dark and [he] turn[s] on lights and take[s] some deep breaths, smelling the hay and horses and their manure, both fresh and dried, a combined odor that you either like or you don't." (459) His routines are again described to the reader. It seems that Luke is so involved with his habits that he even enjoys the smell of his barn, despite the enormously large amount of manure it holds within. With the lights on and the familiar smell of the barn surrounding him, Luke then goes to the next step of his morning. The persona chooses a horse for his morning ride and then, "[he] get[s] [his] old English saddle that has smoothed and darkened through the years, and go[es] into the stall, talking to this beautiful creature." (459) Again, the persona describes more routine he goes by every morning. Luke's "old English saddle that has smoothed and darkened through the years" symbolizes his heavy use of the saddle. Also, his "conversation" with his horse illustrates how obsessed he is with his animals and his rituals. The persona lives a life based on one thing,...

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