My Oedipus Complex

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The story "My Oedipus Complex" by Frank O'Connor deals exclusively with a little boy named Larry and his feelings towards his father. When his father returns home from World War II, Larry is resentful and jealous of losing his mother's undivided attention, and finds himself in a constant struggle to win back her affections.

I really enjoyed "My Oedipus Complex," because it reminded me a great deal of my elementary school days. My brother Brian was born when I was five, and from that day on there was never a moment of peace in the house. He was constantly underfoot, and after he was old enough, spent all his time trying to sweet talk my mother into whatever it was he wanted at the moment. Kissing her hand and lavishing praise on her mothering skills was one of his favorites, and it was usually pretty effective, too. My mother was oblivious to the terror he had inflicted on the rest of the household - me, two dogs, and a school of goldfish - and saw only her sweet, perfect baby boy. For this reason, I saw Larry as a tamer but equally spoiled version of my brother, and his mother as remarkably similar to my own.

I have many memories of my brother's most unforgettable acts, many of them occurring around the time my mother's new boyfriend Rodney started showing up at the house. After his first introduction to my brother, it was was remarkable that he ever came back. "Just a moment ... Do be quiet ... Don't interrupt again!" (97) These were common phrases in our house, as well, and it was no different on that first night Rodney stopped by. Brian was on the warpath, interrupting their conversation every twenty seconds to tell my mother what it was he wanted for Christmas that year. Finally, after about an hour of hearing about toy trucks and Ninja Turtles, my mother was tired, and demanded he go to his room and stay there. However, my brother had just turned four, and had recently learned a new trick to gain my mother's full attention ... without hesitating a second, Brian peed in my future step-father's lap. Neither Rodney or my mother were very amused, so I stifled my giggles. Although my brother took it to the extreme, I could definitely relate to Larry's decision to put himself between any conversations his parents had. At one point in the story, Larry commented "While [Father] talked to Mother I played loudly with my toys to show my total lack of concern," (102) and I pictured my brother doing the exact same thing while Rodney talked. While he never repeated his actions of that first night, he continued to do everything he could to inconvenience any conversations the two had.

Another way in which Larry reminded me of my younger brother was his ability to throw screaming fits at a moment's notice. Larry said "I ... knew that my principal rights and privileges were as good as lost unless I asserted them at once. As she lifted me, I gave a screech, enough to wake the dead, not to mind father." (101) Brian asserted his principal rights and privileges on a daily basis, it seemed, and the house was almost never quiet. One of his most memorable fits occurred, again, while Rodney was over, this time as a babysitter. Brian was up past his bedtime playing loudly with his trucks, even though he had been told repeatedly to go change into his bed clothes. Finally, losing patience, Rodney started towards my brother to carry him off to the bedroom, but Brian wasn't about to let it happen. He darted across the room, and having recently learned the fine art of cursing, let out a string of expletives. Rodney stood shocked for a moment, and then picked up the closest object he could find (a World Book encyclopedia), and smacked my brother on the butt. Even though it wasn't hard enough to hurt, my brother let out another collection of obscene words, and so it continued. An hour later, when my mother returned home, they were still going at it, both of them being too stubborn to give up. Although I hadn't thought...
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