Reading Father and I by Par Lagerkvist
with Narrative and Culture
One of the claims that J. Hillis Miller make in his essay Narrative, has to do with repetition and its relationship with enjoyment. Miller points out “We enjoy imitation. For one thing imitations are rhythmic, orderly and it is natural for us to take pleasure in rhythmic forms.” In answering the question, why we need the ‘same’ story over and over again, Miller adds “The repetition of a rhythmic pattern is intrinsically pleasurable, whatever the pattern is. The repetitions within the pattern are pleasurable themselves.” From his claim, I can deduce that repetition is something that readers look for in a story. Come to think of it, it might be one of the driving forces that allow the reader to take interest. It is one primary consideration that writers need to take in making a story. In the fiction story, Father and I, by Par Lagerkvist, I find that the author not only uses repetition not only for enjoyment but also for the development of the story. Repetition is found in the rhetorical devices that he uses to develop his sentences. For one, he utilizes parallelism in his statements. “There was noise and movement everywhere; bumblebees came out of their holes, midges swarmed wherever it was marshy, and birds darted out of the bushes to catch them and back again as quickly.” Another, he uses repetitive words in order to gain more impact in a sentence. “Nothing was right, nothing was real; it was all so weird.” The genius of Lagerkvist comes out in the repetition of events and elements in the plot and making them contradictory. The story repeats events and elements and creates a contrast of imagery depending on the time. The summary of events follow: the father and child go out, enter the woods, see animals and telegraph poles, encounter a train, and arrive at their destination. At day time, the woods are full of life and movement. Animals and telegraph poles sing. The train is a...
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