Analysis of Father and Son by Cat Stevens

Written by Senuka Dahamdi

The song Father and Son by Cat Stevens reveals the universal and general theme - the generation gap to the world. The differences of attitudes between two generations is known as the generation gap. Their attitudes, decisions and thoughts are completely different from each other. Stevens has been able to highlight this dramatically in his song by  the internal and external arrangement of form and ideas. In the song the reader can see that the father speaks a lot showing the authoritative role of him at the outset.

In the first stanza the reader can see that the father wants to stop his young son from joining something controversial. If we checked the background, we can assume that it is joining the Russian Revolution where lots of youth had joined in search of change and glory. Father insists his son at that time ‘it’s not time to make a change,’ The father wants his son to be patient as it is not the time to make such a decision. As young people are as brakeless vehicles, they are hasty in their decision making due to their lack of experiences. Father urges: ‘Just relax, take it easy.’ The father is a cool, calm and serene person as he advices his son not to be hasty and quick when making decisions in his life, ‘you are still young, that’s your fault, there’s so much you have to know.’ Father knows about the society and the world as he has gathered experiences through the walk of his life but the son is still young and he does not have plenty of experiences though he thinks so.

The father advices his son with a bunch of philosophical and logical ideas and he is very open towards his son: ‘find a girl, settle down, if you want you can marry, look at me, I am old, but I’m happy.’ Father wants his son to find a girl and settle down in his own life and by doing that, he wants to stop him joining to the Russian Revolution. Father believes that the song might forget his revolutionary ideas if he becomes infatuated with a girl. Father seems to know about the age of his son as he had experienced the same. At the same time the reader can see that he is a very positive person towards his life.

The father was also a young boy like his son once. He knows about the feelings of a youngster during such a time of turbulence. The flashback technique is used to create this effect: ‘ I was once like you are now, and I know that it’s not easy.’ He wants his son to make decisions very calmly in his life as the father does not want to see the failures which he had in his past from his son. She instructs his son to ‘take your time, think a lot.’ The father somehow wants to stop his son from joining the Russian Revolution possibly he loves and worried about his son so much: ‘for you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not.’  However, because of these instructions, the reader can see a friction created between their relationship as the father thinks he is correct and the son thinks that he is correct.

Although the father tries to explain a lot to his son, the son does not agree with his father. The son seems rather exhausted and frustrated with father’s same old advices and typical experiences: ‘it’s always been the same, same old story.’ May be the son does not actually air his thoughts, may be his internal thoughts are shown in the lines. May be he has never been given a chance to speak, just only to listen all the time: ‘from the moment I could talk I was ordered to listen.’ This highlights the strict, authoritative nature of the father and the patriarchal conventions in the society. Due to this, they do not listen and respect each other’s opinions that has created a contradictory anti-relationship between them.

In the next segment, it can be seen a refrain to highlight the voice of father. The son is frustrated and broken from inside as he has never got a chance to express himself. Seemingly, he keeps a huge pressure inside his mind. Due to that he is very frustrated. Due to that authoritative power of father, son does not want to be open with his father: ‘all the times that I’ve cried, keeping all the things I knew inside, It’s hard, but it’s harder to ignore it.’ This disagreement of their opinions is brought out by Stevens in his song which is created due to the lack of communication and how they express each other’s emotions. The sun sums up: ‘It they were right, I’d agree, but it’s them they know, not me.’

The son is a radical person who seem to take his decisions in his life based on reasons rather than emotions and also it is clearly visible about the discriminations in between their relationship.  The son refuses the cocooned life offered by the world and his father. He wants to make a place for him in the society by being independent: ‘Now there’s a way and I know that I have to go away, I know I have to go,’ and he tries to break the cocoon and fly far away as a free butterfly to feel and experience the world as the youth is very adventurous.

This descriptive essay on Father and Son is written by one of our bright students Senuka. Senuka Dahamdi is yet a secondary grade student who shows the budding potential as a writer and a critic. Her writing style is unique and spontaneous. We wish her all the best in her future life as a writer.

What do you think about her views about the thematic concerns in the poem? Please comment your ideas for her to develop herself. Please share the post if you find this is useful to others.

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