An Analysis Of The Boat By Alistair Macleod

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The theme in both the short story The Boat by Alistair Macleod and the poem Warren Pryor by Alden Nowlan have direct connections. Both works reflect the theme of obligation versus aspiration, and promote the message that it is difficult to be happy with a career chosen in order to please someone else. In each story, the protagonists feel compelled to follow a path that is not their own, but rather one chosen for them by their parents who are blind to the protagonist’s true desires. The narrator in The Boat is conflicted throughout the story as he tries to reconcile his own ambition of attending university with the expectation he will continue the family tradition as a fisherman. At the beginning of the story, he describes how his family is…show more content…
He works hard and long for months until his father passes away, which lifts his burden and permits him to follow his true calling by the end of the story. Were not for his father's death, the narrator would have begrudgingly continued in a career chosen by necessity, not desire. In the poem Warren Pryor, the protagonist finds himself in a similar situation, where he is obligated to choose what his parents want for him. His parents are farmers, who want nothing more than their son to have a professional job. They work incredibly hard to put Warren through school, and aspire to spare him from their hardscrabble existence on “the meagre acreage that bore them down” (Nowlan 4). They are elated when he finally graduates, as described in the line “They blushed with pride when, at his graduation,/they watched him pick up the slender scroll” (Nowlan 5-6). When Warren becomes a bank teller, they are grateful that they were successful in giving him what they believe is a better life. In the last stanza, however, it is revealed that Warren did not have a say in his career choice and bore the expectations of his parents in silence. The poem reveals that “he said nothing” (Nowlan 13) and describe him as having “axe-hewn hands upon the paper bills/aching with empty strength and throttled rage” (Nowlan 15-16). The reader can clearly see by this last stanza that Warren's real dream was
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