Posted in Short Stories

Vonnegut on fathers and sons

I find it interesting that I’ve read two stories back to back about fathers and sons.  I read another short story from Kurt Vonnegut’s collection Bagombo Snuff Box called “This Son of Mine”.   The Vonnegut stories I’ve read so far combine a small “slice of life” moment with major insights into relationships and the world in general.


This is the age-old story in which a son disappoints his father by not wanting to take over the family business.  Merle and Franklin (named after Benjamin Franklin- one might be inclined to think “high expectations”), the father and son already mentioned, shoot clay pigeons with Rudy and Karl, a father and son who “seem” to have the perfect relationship.  In just a short time together, Vonnegut incorporates comparisons and contrasts in which he draws this bittersweet conclusion while Rudy and Karl play music:

…the music wasn’t speaking anymore of just Rudy and Karl.  It was speaking of all fathers and sons.  It was saying what they had all been saying haltingly, sometimes with pain and sometimes with anger and sometimes with crueltly and sometimes with love:  that fathers and sons were one.

It was saying, too, that a time for a parting in spirit was near – no matter how close anyone held anyone, no matter what anyone tried.

5 thoughts on “Vonnegut on fathers and sons

    1. Thanks for the great review, Jay! I’ll be reading more Vonnegut stories in the future. Your review made me think of when I received Oatmeal Butterscotch cookies in the mail. (Thanks, Kim! They were delicious!).

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