1. How are father and son alike? The father and son were alike because they were both responsible and family came first. They were both men. How are they different? They were different because Barry was strong and athletic and the father was frail and sick. “his father’s throat was fleshless and vulnerable” shows the father’s utter dependence on Barry, and the fact that his life virtually lies in his son’s hands Barry’s size and strength shows that he has made the physical change from boyhood to manhood, while the shaving of his father itself shows that he is still making the mental and emotional transition into manhood. Describe the relationship between father and son. How do they feel about each other? How do you know? Barry loved his father enough to want to come home to him instead of going out with his friends. His father was a man who always had to have things just right. As soon as he realized that his son was able to take his place he loved him and trusted him enough to die, knowing his wife and son would be in good hands. Of what significance is Barry’s athletic prowess? He is becoming a man. How does it help reveal his character?
In the beginning of the story it talked about him being small “a few years back” and at the end of the story it talked of his “small” hands “not very long ago”. Barry was shown as growing from a small boy to man in several places in this story. Barry’s athletic prowess was significant because this shows he is maturing into a man that can accept his father’s death and the responsibility to take over as the man of the house, also, when his father realized how strong he was he and asked about his son’s age. He recognized that his son had the strength to take over as man of the house. 2. Why is the shaving equipment described in such detail? Shaving is a ritual. Barry’s father liked things just right. Barry methodically cleaned every piece of shaving equipment showing love and respect as he accepts the torch of manhood and responsibility handed to him by cleaning his father’s shaving equipment like his father would have it. Like a man would have it. Of what significance is the “large and sturdy” shaving mug, the ivory handled razor, the coat of arms on the mug?
The words “large and sturdy” signify becoming a man. Shaving is a rite of passage. These were symbolically described for their significance to becoming the head of the household. Why does Barry wash his hands “like a surgeon” and makes the tools “clinically clean”? Barry’s father liked things “just right:. He worried about the “little things” and like “every detail perfect”. He is shaving his father for the last time. Barry was preparing to shave his father, almost ritualistically. This shows that he was taking extra care to get things right, and that he wanted to have everything perfect for his father. It symbolizes Barry’s want or need for everything to be perfect for his father; even though Barry himself can do nothing about the fact that his father is dying, he can at least make life as good for him as possible while his father still lives.
How is the mug and shaving incident symbolic? This ritual was also for the father as he is preparing for death. As his son shaved him he realized his son was strong enough physically and emotionally to be the man of the house and he could rest and put aside the worries of the world and die in peace and he found pride, humility and wonder. Also, I think that shaving symbolized the erasing of any problems that occurred in the past between Barry and his father. 3. Why must Barry use the mug, brush and razor rather than the electric shaver? This symbolizes Barry taking the responsibility from his father’s shoulders and taking them onto his own. This also symbolizes his father’s last rites as shaving is a ritual and his father is preparing for death. His son helps his father realize it is ok to die. This is the transition between father and son of responsibility and love. 4. During the shave, Barry tells his dad, “No problem, you needn’t worry.” What, besides shaving, is he talking about? T
his is when Barry tells his father that he can take care of the household and it is ok for his father to die. That he taught him well, he is a strong man and that his mother will be well cared for because he is like him, responsible. Also, Barry is overcome with “unreasoning protective love” for his father as he is shaving him. In those moments Berry was able to reassure his dying father that he was a man now and that “There was no need,” to worry. 5. What does the beam of sunlight in the last paragraph symbolize? What is significant about Barry’s last one-minute rest in the light? This symbolized his dying father and the cold death to come. His last minute rest in the light symbolized the last moments feeling of his father’s warmth and love that was fading like the sun. Also, the sunset, which symbolized the “light” of his father’s guidance, and its steady retreat beneath the horizon, symbolized the waning of the “light” of his father’s presence and guidance.
Also, the story occurs in the month April, which could mean a new beginning. The father’s moving on to the next stage, and Barry’s new role as “the man of the house”, and his beginning stages of being a man. It shows that life goes on, the circle of life, and when one door closes, another one opens. And, at the end of the story Barry opened the window even though it was cold the room smelled of illness. Opening the window let out the smell of illness and invited fresh air in and death out. The “window was full in the beam of the dying sunlight”. Like the sunlight his father was dying as Barry stood in the “warmth of the sun for a whole minute, knowing it would soon be gone. “