Download Fathers Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Robley Wilson never states explicitly that the man in this story is the young woman’s father, but one may assume that the characters are indeed father and daughter. Not only the story’s title but also the interaction between the two characters suggests this relationship. Wilson is also speaking about fathers in general terms. That he never names his two characters, thus denying them particularity, takes this story beyond the details of this specific relationship to a more universal statement about relationships between generations.

The beauty of this story lies in its use of a seemingly simple game of golf to reveal much about its characters. In the early scenes it is clear that the young woman is astute and possibly has better judgment than her father, who often disregards her opinion. In the first scene he is slow to realize that he cannot find his lost ball and should take a drop—just as the young woman has recommended. At the seventh hole the young woman correctly guesses where the out-of-sight pin is, as well as which club is best for the shot.

The young woman also teases her father, but he seems not to catch her humor. Despite his insistence that she should learn the difference between a hook and a slice, she quips that there really is no difference if he cannot find his lost ball. In the hole-in-one scene she taunts her father, parsimoniously doling out the news that his ball is already in the hole. He doubts not only his ability to make a hole-in-one but also her word. As soon as he believes her, she gives him another playful dig: Yes, it “actually” made it into the hole, but the shot did not showcase the best form in the world; the father is a pawn in her hand in this scene, extremely vulnerable, and she plays with him.

There is also tenderness between the two. The father expresses his emotion physically, whether this means throwing a ball toward the tops of the trees to express his joy, or kissing his daughter to express...

(The entire section is 524 words.)