Life Lessons


Task two: Memoir

My first memory is of my dad teaching me a lesson. I think I was around four years old when my family and I took a road trip to Rhode Island. The weather wasn’t great during our trip, but my parents decided to treat us and get us out of the house and to the beach for a family fun day. While we were at the beach the waves were too strong and would make me tumble in a heart beat if I attempted to go swimming. I remember my dad trying to teach me a lesson that day, holding me by my wrists so my toes could barely graze across the sand. I guess he was trying to scare me away from the water because the waves were twice my height.

Task four: More identity

I’m so boring that my parents have to show me how to have fun. Even as a four-year-old, I have to depend on others for entertainment. My parents see how clueless I am and even embarrassed me in front of the other kids on the beach. He taught me a lesson by dangling me above the ground until I understood. No matter how many veggies I eat I’m still a little shrimp. I’m 19 years old and I bet you that those waves are still too strong for me. I’ve got spaghetti for arms, and I just wouldn’t be able to swim against the current, if need be. Now I understand why my parents made me wear a one piece bathing suit stuffed with styrofoam to keep me afloat because I’m so weak. That bathing suit was bright purple, just like Barnie.

Task Five: Henry’s Identity

A passage from Chapter 2

My father went from tree to tree, yanking at the lower branches,

throwing the oranges into the picnic basket.

“Daddy, we have enough,” said my mother.

“Like hell.”

He kept yanking.

Then a man stepped forward, a very tall man. He held a shotgun.

“All right, buddy, what do you think you’re doing?”

“I’m picking oranges. There are plenty of oranges.”

“These are my oranges. Now, listen to me, tell your woman to dump


“There are plenty of god-damned oranges. You’re not going to miss a few

god-damned oranges.”

“I’m not going to miss any oranges. Tell your woman to dump


The man pointed his shotgun at my father.

“Dump them,” my father told my mother. The oranges rolled to the


“Now,” said the man, “get out of my orchard.”

“You don’t need all these oranges.”

“I know what I need. Now get out of here.”

“Guys like you ought to be hung!”

“I’m the law here. Now move!”

The man raised his shotgun again. My father turned and began walking

out of the orange grove. We followed him and the man trailed us. Then we got

into the car but it was one of those times when it wouldn’t start. My father

got out of the car to crank it. He cranked it twice and it wouldn’t start.

My father was beginning to sweat. The man stood at the edge of the road.

It’s clear from reading this scene that Charles Bukowski pays close attention to how his father handles the situation. Although he describes his relationship with his father as being very difficult to manage, it seems as though he pays close attention to how his father reacts to situations. Recognizing “beginning to sweat”, I think he gets his tough exterior from his father. I think Charles thinks that if he’s able to mimic how his father acts, then maybe one day he’ll respect him more.







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