How Literary Devices and Devices of Emphasis Create the Haunting Despair of Gordon’s “Can We Love Our Battering Fathers?”
In the essay, “Can We Love Our Battering Fathers?” Helen H. Gordon creates a vivid image of despair in her family. This is a reflective essay that allows the reader to experience what she went through growing up. Her father is the main cause of despair which is shown throughout his behaviour towards his family, especially her mother. She creates the feeling of haunting despair through the use of diction, allusions, and foreshadowing.
By reading the title, we know that the essay is about a person who grew up with an abusive father. To determine the extent, diction is used to convey a special tone through the appropriate use of words. In Helen Gordon’s “Can We Love Our Battering Fathers?”, not only is the reader aware of the tone, but can almost feel exactly what the author is going through. Through the choice of words and amplification, the author is able to increase the significance and understandability. For example, she states “What my sister and I have not been able to reconcile, is Dad’s treatment of Mother—gentle, loving Mother, who lived for her family and adored her husband, the quintessential traditional woman, domestic and submissive even to the point of martyrdom.” (5). The author extends this sentence to describe her mother by using many meaningful words to emphasize her sweet and innocent character. This is a direct contrast as to how the author views her father. She mentions, “Although, I still carry emotional scars from years of living in fear-of thumps against the floor or screams in the night-I cannot simply hate my father.”(2). Notice the words “scars”, “fear”, “thumps”, and “screams” to describe her father, but she does not necessarily hate him. This device of emphasis is illustrated throughout the essay. With the choice of words and amplification, the reader is able to understand that author’s unforgettable and...
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