In “A Father's Story,” is Luke not concerned about his daughter's guilty feelings in revealing the accident?

Luke Ripley in “A Father's Story” helps his daughter cover up an accident in which she was driving drunk and killed a man. While he is trying to help her escape her guilt, he actually helps her bury it deep within her. By not facing the consequences of her actions, she will likely someday reap completely different, and perhaps much worse, consequences.

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In “A Father's Story” by Andre Dubus, protagonist Luke Ripley is awakened one night by his daughter, Jennifer. She has been out drinking that night with her friends, and on the way home, she hits someone. She doesn't stop to see what has happened. Rather, terrified and confused, she hurries to her father.

Luke should have called the police, but hoping beyond hope that Jennifer is wrong, that she only hit an animal, he goes out looking instead. He finds a young man alongside the road. He thinks he is dead, but he is not completely sure. Again, he does not call the police or the ambulance. Rather he goes home, puts his daughter to bed, takes her car, and stages an accident of his own, hitting a tree outside his friend Father Paul's house.

A while later two boys find the dead man, but there is nothing to associate Jennifer with the accident, or Luke either for that matter. Luke has covered up for Jennifer, and while we readers can, to a point, understand his actions, we are also left wondering why Luke has done such a thing. Certainly he loves his daughter, but perhaps his love is misguided. He does not allow her to experience the consequences of her actions. He does not allow her to face her guilt and to deal with it head on. Instead, he allows her to hide the guilt, to keep her secret, and to become a very good actress. By being too concerned about his daughter's feelings, he has actually helped her suppress those feelings. We wonder how they will come out for her later in life and if the consequences will actually be worse in the long run, for the guilt of what she has done remains.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on February 18, 2021
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