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Tobias Wolff’s short story The Night in Question follows two different relationships between fathers and sons. The story shows a juxtaposition of two different but similar relationships.

One relationship in the story is between Frank and his father, Frank Senior. The relationship Frank has with his father is one of fear, obedience, anger, and violence. Frank Senior beats his son and constantly puts him down for being himself; while Frank’s mother closes her eyes and acts as a bystander. Although Frank’s mother encourages him to stand up for himself, Frank Senior constantly says no to his son and never shows him any example or sign of love. For example, Frank Senior is determined to “break” his son, but Frank wouldn’t break or give in. As time passed, Frank’s father “ceased to give reasons for his displeasure. As his silence grew heavier, so did his hand” (page 639). This quote shows that Frank Senior stops giving reasons for beating Frank constantly. Along with the silence, Frank Senior’s hand grows heavier in weight of disappointment and anger.

The other relationship is between Benny and his father, Mike. The relationship between Benny and his father contains genuine love and affection. Mike would do anything for his son and loves him no matter what. Their relationship is the epitome of a father-son relationship that is destined to last forever.

The Night in Question illustrates how a relationship between a father and a son can play a crucial role in a son’s life.

One Response to “The Relationship Between Father and Son in Tobias Wolff’s “The Night in Question””

  1. Aoife: Please note that stories are placed in quotation marks, not italics.

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