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Every Son has a Father Story

Updated on December 15, 2013

In every story you have to have something that captures an audience. Telling a good story is one thing, but having the reader be absolutely engulfed in its beauty is something that every author strives to accomplish. One effective way of achieving this goal is to provide a relationship between to characters that resembles the relationships that the reader would have. Something that they can relate to will capture their full attention. In A Hand Full of Stars and Anatomy of a Disappearance, you see the use of a father-son relationship that carries out throughout the book. A typical element to this relationship is a struggle to understand each other. Both books portray this relationship in a way that is unique to their overall story, but strikingly similar to each other.

A Hand Full of Stars is collection of journal entries written by a son about his everyday life. You are engaged in many short storied throughout the book such as his love for Nadia, the “Black Hand” gang that he and his friends invented, his overwhelming desire to become a writer, or his school life, but all of these are involved with the overlying story of his relationship with his father and how that progresses as he matures in the four years. A vital area of the book that showed the father-son relationship was the tension between what the son wanted to do when he grew up and what the father wanted him to do. Either the son would grow up to be come a great writer, or take over his father’s business at the bakery.

The bakery was a place that the son despised. Throughout all the entries you see the son wanting nothing more than to get a good education and become a world-renown writer. He did not want to become a baker. This brings tension to the father-son relationship. “What is a prison compared to the bakery? My fathers has worked there now for more that thirty years without a break. … Maybe he enjoys it, but it is no life for me” (p. 23). Because his father wants him to continue working in the bakery and eventually take it over, he doesn’t see a need for his son to continue in the educational system, despite his success. “I’ll probably never see the inside of school again. At supper my father said he can’t manage alone anymore and why, after all, he had brought a boy into this world who would not help him” (p. 37).

Despite the son’s wants, the father persists to force him to work in the bakery and insists that he respect his wishes. Hesitantly, the son would continue to listen to his father, but eventually found a way to start pursuing his dreams of becoming a writer. As you can see, the love of each other along with the disagreement in the issue is a pressing dilemma that captures the reader. This is also seen in Anatomy of a Disappearance.

In Hisham Matar’s Anatomy of a Disappearance, there is quite a story about Nuri and his father Kamal. Starting on the first page, you can feel their relationship come to life through Matar’s outstanding use of words: “There are times when my father’s absence is as heavy as a child sitting on my chest. Other times I can barely recall the exact features of his face and must bring the photographs I keep in an old envelope in the drawer of my bedside table” (p. 1). You can immediately see that there is something bothering Nuri, the writer.

Their relationship had grown quiet after Nuri’s mother died. Both of them seemed to be trying to make sense of the world without her in their own way. The story gets complicated when the reader realizes that both of them cope with the death by seeking a new woman, Mona, whom they found by the poolside of the Magda Marina in Alexandria, Egypt. After fighting over her for some time, Kamal marries Mona. Nuri does not stop striving to claim her as his own. The relationship between Nuri and Kamal grows apart as they both fight for the same woman. Then, Kamal vanishes. Nuri fully indulges into his love for Mona before realizing what had occurred. His wish had come true.

His father was abducted and now he regrets making the wish entirely. “I began to feel I had been neglecting my father. I saw him waiting in a windowless room. I obsessed about what I could do to find him. I dreamed of him often” (p. 191). The search for his father is never settled in the end of the book. So, the son wishes he was able to redo his relationship with his father and actually get to know him more than he had before. Unlike his mother, he knew very little about his father. He never spent the time to understand all of his imperfections and really become good friends with him.

Another strikingly interesting piece that unites these two books is the common relationship to a figure that both the son and father have developed: Uncle Salim in A Hand Full of Stars and Mona in Anatomy of a Disappearance. Uncle Salim is well respected by both the son and father in A Hand Full of Stars. Uncle Salim lives in the same building as the son and acts as a second father to him. He gives him advice outside of his family that keeps him from doing things that are irrational. Not only does the son consider him an amazing friend, but the father respects him as well. The father seeks his advice and listens to what he has to say.

When my father’s voice got really loud, Uncle Salim came to our apartment. He said he had come to visit me, his friend. My mother was glad to see him because my father has great respect for him. Amazing that Uncle Salim is never ashamed of my friendship, even when my father, in his wrath, counts me the worst of scoundrels. How I wish Uncle Salim never should die.

It is obvious through this quote that both the son and father have an enormous amount of respect and love for Uncle Salim. He is the mediator between the two. He advises both and loves both the father and the son. Mona is a similar figure.

In Anatomy of a Disappearance, Mona is the mediator between Nuri and Kamal. She is also one of the major problems between them. She is the person that they both respect and have an individual relationship to. “I pictured Father sitting there alone, reading the newspaper. I felt guilty. Then that turned immediately to jealousy, because the next picture my mind drew had Mona sitting opposite him” (p. 18). It is obvious that Nuri knows his father loves Mona, and that he loves her as well.

So, you can see that both books portray a father-son relationship that progresses through many different phases throughout the books. In the beginning, both books show a tainted relationship that is morphed by a third person, and after a terrible circumstance, both sons learn to respect their father’s and realize that they were a vital part of their life. Every son has a father story. In these stories, you see it progress from bad to realizing that fathers are a super important part of their life.


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