Arm Wrestling with My Father

Decent Essays

Arm Wrestling with My Father

In this essay written for his freshman composition course, Manning explores his physical contact with his father over the years, perceiving gradual changes that are, he realizes, inevitable. For Manning, description provides a way to express his feelings about his father and to comment on relations between sons and fathers. In the essay after Manning’s, Itabari Njeri uses description for similar ends, but her subject is a daughter and her father.

“Now you say when” is what he always said before an arm-wrestling match. He liked to put the responsibility on me, knowing that he would always control the outcome. “When!” I’d shout, and it would start. And I would tense up, concentrating and straining …show more content…

My feelings have changed, though. I don’t giggle anymore, at least not around my father. And I don’t fell pressured to compete with him the way I thought necessary for years. Now my father is not really so strong as he used to be and I am getting stronger. This change in strength comes at a time when I am growing faster mentally than at any time before. I am becoming less my father and more myself. And as a result, there is less of a need to be set apart from him and his command. I am no longer a rebel in the household, wanting to stand up against the master with clenched fists and tensing jaws, trying to impress him with my education or my views on religion. I am no longer a challenger, quick to correct his verbal mistakes, determined to beat him whenever possible in physical competition. I am not sure when it was that I began to feel less competitive with my father, but it all became clearer to me one day this past January. I was home in Virginia for a week between exams, and Dad had stayed home from work because the house was snowed in deep. It was then that I learned something I never could have guessed. I don’t recall who suggested arm wrestling that day. We hadn’t done it for a long time, for months. But there we were, lying flat on the carpet, face to face, extending our right arms. Our arms were different. His still resembled a fat tree branch, one which had leveled my wrist to the ground countless times

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