Morley Callaghan

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What are the characteristics of the mother and father in Morley Callaghan's "A Boy Grows Older"?

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In Morley Callaghan's "A Boy Grows Older," we can see the love of Mr. and Mrs. Sloane for each other and for their son, but we are left to wonder if their love for their son makes them weak and easily manipulated. Let's look at this in more detail to get you started on your character analysis.

Jim Sloane has been borrowing money from his parents for a long time, and we get the feeling that, in spite of all his promises, he never pays them back. He continually says that this will be the last time he borrows, but it never is.

Mrs. Sloane seems to be the soft touch. She has been giving money to Jim for a while now without her husband knowing. Yet she worries, realizing that their son is taking advantage of them. Mr. Sloane knows that, too. They are living on only a pension, and money is tight. Notice how Mr. and Mrs. Sloane do not argue with each other. They feel rather hopeless together, and they ask each other plenty of questions that have no real answers. The narrator tells us that this actually draws them closer together.

When Jim arrives, Mrs. Sloane takes a hard line with him. She becomes angry, accusing her son of being willing to take their last cent from them. She wishes he had some respect for himself. Her attitude surprises Jim, for his mother is not such a soft touch after all. She tells him that he must go to his father this time.

Mr. Sloane has every intention of denying his son. But in the end, he gives him the money, saying that there is something different this time. Mr. Sloane is afraid, perhaps, that if he does not give Jim the money, things will get worse. Both parents want very much to believe that they have not been wrong in helping their son, yet we get a sense that deep down, they know they have merely given in again. Their love for their son (and their fear about what might happen to him) makes them weak, and they turn to each other for support.

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