In both Raymond Caver’s Photograph of My Father in His Twenty Second Year Sylvia Plath’s Daddy anger is felt towards a father who failed to live up to the child’s expectation.
Raymond Carver’s poem has a tone of remorse towards the person his father could have been. As he looks into his young father’s eyes he sees the hope in his future, but as he knows how his life ended, he is bitter towards the man he became. He is stuck in limbo between anger and pity. His conflicting views spring from the resemblance he sees of himself in the mirrored picture of his father. His anger is softened as he sees his fathers eyes as he says, “But the eyes give him away”, in line 11. He concludes saying, “Father, I love you, yet how can I say thank you, I who can’t hold my liquor either...” I think this poem expresses how a love for a father is always existing, but anger and resentment can still stand true. Children look up to their fathers, and often follow in their footsteps. Carver writes as if he is speaking from deep in his heart through personal experiences and glimpses of his childhood.
Sylvia Plath’s poem takes a slightly different path. In Daddy a young girl is expressing her hatred and built up anger towards her father. She uses strong analogies to show how deep her hurt is such as giving her father the same characteristics as Hitler in lines 41- 44, “I have always been scared of you, With your Luftwaffe, your gobledygoo. And your neat mustache, And your Aryan eye, bright blue.” Even though her father has passed away, she still feels his power lingering, and his impact is lasting. She married a man just like her father in a subconscious attempt to get back at him. As she said he “died before I had time,” leaving her in constant anger and disgust. She feels as if her father is trapping her in, relating herself to Jews and concentration camps.
It is interesting to see how each poem is a child’s portrayal of their father, but they are from different viewpoints. One from a son who blames his dad for the person he is today, and the other from a daughter who fears the constant power her dad has over her.
posterity- succeeding or future generations collectively(dictionary.com)- Photograph of My Father in His Twenty Second Year line 8.
chuf- a sound of or like the exhaust of a steam engine (dictionary.com)- Daddy used as a verb in line 32.