In between the two world wars, America suffered from hunger and unemployment. This all happened because of the huge economic crisis, which struck the whole world in 1929. It is not unusual that this type of crisis can lead man into alcoholism and gambling, and quickly, a whole family can be on the edge of destruction.
This is exactly what Raymond Carver describes in his novel “My Father’s Life” from 1984. In his novel, Raymond Carver describes his father’s life, starting with his death and continuing with how he met his wife.The story goes on, telling about their poor life, his alcoholism, gambling and his unfaithfulness. The father is named Clevie Raymond Carver and he is roughly described as a drunkard, who has a hard time finding work and staying faithful to his wife. He has had a lot of mistresses since he got married, which does not bother him the slightest.
He is restless and seeks happiness, which he has a hard time finding. Although he seems cold and heartless at some points, it seems that he cares a lot about his friends and coworkers: “(…)he stood in the crowd and heard Franklin D.Roosevelt when he spoke at the construction side. ‘He never mentioned those guys who died building that dam,’ my dad said. Some of his friends had died there(…)”.
When Raymond Clevie Carver Jr. was born, Clevie had a construction job at a sawmill and those years was the best of his life. Later on, when WWII broke out, it went downhill for him again, because he lost all his money gambling and had therefore a hard time feeding his family.Sometimes Clevie would tell his son that he had to live at some other family members place, probably because he could not afford having a child to feed and take care of, but it always ended up with Raymond staying, because Clevie would find a way to feed all of them.
But even though their relationship did not seem very good, and the memories Raymond describes not very nice, they still have some kind of love to each other. When Clevie collapses at work, Raymond does not hesitate on going to help.And it is clear that Raymond is very moved by his father’s death. “I didn’t have the chance to tell him goodbye, or that I thought he was doing great at his new job. That I was proud of him for making a comeback. ” Clevie had a hard time keeping jobs during the time between the WWs. He went from one job to another, like a lot of other people in America and the rest of the world at that time, because there was a big economic crisis in the entire world, which started in 1929. The unemployment led to starvation, which also appened in the Carver family: “After he’d put aside a little money, he bought a car and drove back to Arkansas to help his folks, my grandparents, pack up for the move west.
He said later that they were about to starve down there, and this wasn’t meant as a figure of speech. ”. But when Clevie got sick, he changed. It is like he started to care about his wife and son, and even though he moved away alone to work, he would still write letters to his wife and ask her to say hello to their son from him. He also wanted to help his son as much as he could: “’Write about stuff you know about.Write about some of those fishing trips we took.
’ I said I would, but I knew I wouldn’t. ‘Send me what you write,’ he said. ” When Clevie got sick, a doctor send him to a psychiatric hospital, where he lived for a long time, until one day he came home and soon started working again.
But he had lost his good name, and could never have it back again: “(…) Raymond Carver was someone who couldn’t pay his bills – and his self-respect was gone. He’d even lost his virility. ” He died a sudden, but non-violent death in his sleep.The night before he acted like he used to, ate some foot, drank some whiskey and went to bed. The next morning, his wife found him in the bed, mouth open, cheeks graved, gray looking and clearly very dead. The mother does not seem to have an important role in the family, other than she is there to do the stuff mothers in those years did: clean, cook and take care of the child. She knows that her husband is cheating on her, but she does not do much about it, in the open: “One time she found someone else’s tube of lipstick on the floorboard, along with a lacy handkerchief.
See this? ’ she said to me. ‘Some floozy left this in the car. ’” But she wants to figure out what he is hiding from her, hence why she tries to make him talk in his sleep. Apparently she has not much to say about his unfaithfulness, but when it comes to him being violent and drunk, she puts her foot down. “He was drunk, and we could feel the house shudder as he rattled the door. When he’d managed to force open a window, she hit him between the eyes with a colander and knocked him out.
She cares about her husband and tries to make him stop drinking too much alcohol by pouring his whisky out or mixing it with water. She could never dream of cheating on him and has never been with anyone before him or since she got married to him, despite the fact that her husband is cheating with a lot of different women. In the end, you could maybe conclude, that this story is about both Raymond’s father and Raymond himself. Raymond knows that no matter what, he will always be like his father, and he describes that by writing a poem, explaining that the poem was a way of trying to connect up with him.
He writes this poem in the period where he is most identic to his father: “I wrote the poem when I was living in an apartment house in an urban area of south Francisco, at a time when I found myself, like my dad, having trouble with alcohol. ”