: The Dead Father (FSG Classics) (): Donald Barthelme, Donald Antrim: Books. Donald Barthelme wrote a short story in called “The Balloon.” It’s about a man who inflates a balloon over Manhattan. Children love it. Dive deep into Donald Barthelme’s The Dead Father with extended analysis, commentary, and discussion.

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The book relates the journey of a vaguely defined entity that symbolizes fatherhoodhauled by a small group of people as the plot unravels through narratives, anecdotes, dialogues, reflexions and allegories presented to the reader through the tools and constructions of postmodern literaturein which the author excelled as a short story writer. Chapter 17 includes an adapted version of a previously published short story, “A Manual for Sons”, that is much in the style and character of the novel.

The story, in a genre typical of the author, does not follow a conventional plot structure, but evolves through a series of revelations, seemingly-unrelated stories, anecdotes, dialogues, descriptive figments, surreal snapshots of reality, personal rendering of the characters’ impressions or recordings.

The Dead Father

The whole of chapter 22 is a stream of bizarre, deconstructed sentences, as if muttered by a narrator too imbued by the urgency of his thoughts to give attention to proper grammar, giving the impression of a deep penetration in the character’s consciousness. The plot is thus, more than in other novels, a support for the farher explored. The text is also noted for its word play, irony, absurdist humor, that are abundant in the author’s short stories.

The Dead Father is a synthesis of ghe that define Fatherhood, the latter being itself called to refer to other, vaguely defined, notions, such as creation and procreationin their widest sense. It also assumes a more concrete human appearance, both in its very nature discoursing and having human feelings such as jealousy, hate, pleasure, pride, etc. It is, at the same time, clearly not a human figure having gigantic dimensions, being hauled, this thanks to thhe articulated, having a mechanical leg, etc.


The book opens with the mystifying sentence:. Barthelmf rhetorical juxtaposition is to present this entity to external enquirers sometimes as ” a Dead Father” to the childrensome other times as ” the Dead Father” to the Wends.

dear This continuous play on the Dead Father’s genuine nature is one of the thread of the novel. With various characters questioning its identity and being quickly satisfied with elusive fatheg, the reader equally comes to accept the Dead Father as an incarnated metaphor for notions of Fatherhood, partly rooted in the subconscious, partly in the immediate understanding of a biological father. He clearly also evokes God and, for some analysts, is seen as an allegory of language.

The novel gives an approach to the theme of father-son relationships, probably reflecting largely the author’s own attitude toward his own father, expressing the frustration of a creative son in the eye of a demanding father:. It also addresses the more general issue of the creative or procreative fatther. It captures deep truths by the trick of circling them with opposite statements:. Wrong, the Dead Father said gaily.

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Even older than that, but also younger. Having it both ways is a thing I like. They thus strike deeply the reader whose own understanding is left to resonate with that angle that their own mood or personal history is more fit to catch.


A contradiction that pervades the entire story is the energetic abilities of the Dead Father on the one hand, who is free of his own movements and a master of destruction, able to slay living animals on one occasion or immaterial concepts on another, and his need of being hauled on the other hand, namely towards that goal that he awaits himself although he is unable to clearly identify what it is.

Another, parallel concept is the awe and respect that the Dead Father exercises on his children at the same time as his pathetic surrender to their demands of dispossessing him and the distaste he evokes in them. This provides another figurative description of the feelings of those created towards their creator.

This technique is applied repeatedly in various other occasions, providing insights into complex issues of human relationships.

The Dead Father – Wikiquote

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the Canadian film, see The Dead Father film. Retrieved from ” https: Pages to import images to Wikidata. Views Read Edit View history.

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