The Father Figure (To Dance With The White Dog, “young Goodman Brown”)

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The father figure (To Dance with the White Dog, “Young Goodman Brown”)

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The relationships of the protagonists with their father figures in Kafka's "The Metamorphosis" and Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown" are rich with symbolic meaning and pose an interesting contrast to one another. Whereas Kafka's protagonist labors to support and sustain his father, Hawthorne's protagonist is vehemently opposed to the father figure in the story, the devil, and attempts to resist him.

In Kafka's story, the father and son trade places. In the beginning, the father exploits Gregor, allowing the entire family to live on the money Gregor earns of which he keeps very little for himself. In the meantime, the father hoards part of the money, hiding the fact from Gregor(Fogle, Richard pp, 446-465). As Gregor toils at a tedious job to pay off his father's debts, he counts down the years he will have to keep working until he will be free of the indebtedness. Meanwhile, his parents and sister are living a leisurely existence at home none of them working and enjoying the services of a maid. However, after Gregor's transformation into a cockroach, he is no longer able to work and becomes dependent on his father.

Firstly, Hawthorn sets up the time period as the historically significant Salem Massachusetts of the 1690's. “And it was I that brought your father a pitch-pine knot… in King Philip's War.” If Goodman Brown's father fought in this war in 1675 his son would be of marrying age around 1690. This time and place was ripe with religious persecution and strict moral codes. With such ethical and spiritual ----- now hanging in the air, the reader can sense the message of morality, right vs. wrong, good vs. evil (Berkove, Lawrence pp, 46-52).

At the beginning of Terry Kay's To Dance with the White Dog, 80-year-old Sam Peek has just lost his wife Cora after fifty-seven years of marriage. Soon after her death, a pure white dog appears at Sam's place and stays with him. The couple's seven grown children are worried about their father - at first, no one but Sam sees the dog. And even after White Dog makes herself visible to the rest of his family, Sam's conviction that she's safeguarding him makes them uneasy. Sam even claims that White Dog dances with him; and she does, but not while any of the kids are around.The two daughters who live nearby, Kate and Carrie, are especially worried. Before they actually see White Dog, they're convinced Sam's obsession is a sign of mental decline. There's a wonderfully funny episode in which they dress up in commando-type black garb, complete with fireplace ashes to blacken their faces, and stake out Sam's house in the early morning hours, trying to get a glimpse of his canine guardian. Of course, Sam discovers them - with some help from their husbands - and begins to think the "girls" might be having mental breakdowns of their own. Well, I guess guys gotta ...
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