A Story a Day #12: Frank O'Connor
February 17th, 2020
"My Oedipus Complex"
A young boy enjoys his life with his mother while his father is at war, but when his father returns, things go south. He no longer has his mother's attention and has to obey new rules he deems unfair. It is clear that he and his father do not like each other. He even tells his mother that he can't wait to grow older and marry her so that she will be free from the father. Soon the mother is pregnant with another child which takes over her life. With the annoyance of the new baby, the father and son join together in solidarity.
I found this story interesting because of its play on the "father at war" trope. Most of these absent father stories center around children missing the absent parent and becoming overjoyed when they return. This story features the exact opposite when the father comes back and disrupts the child's life completely. The tone is kind of humorous in the way the narrator clearly despises his father in ways that many children can probaby relate to when they are told to obey orders. I think it is much more realistic for children to resist parents than to dote and love them without any qualms. It ends pleasantly with the two coming together over a common issue: the new baby.
What I liked most about this story was its commitment to the honesty of a child's perspective. Because most writers are adults writing as children, it can be easy to simplify and warp their emotions and motivations. However, children are just as complex as adults with their own problems, fears, and desires. This story does a good job of exploring these without mocking them.