"In My Father's House" Analytical Essay by Research Group

"In My Father's House"
A review of the novel "In My Father's House" by Ernest J. Gaines.
# 26269 | 3,784 words | 19 sources | MLA | 2002 | US
Published on Apr 28, 2003 in Literature (American) , English (Analysis) , African-American Studies (General)

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This paper examines Ernest J. Gaines' novel "In My Father's House", the tale of Philip Martin, a minister and civil rights leader, a responsible husband and father and a pillar of the black community in a small, rural Louisiana town. Martin is forced to confront the sins of his past when the son he abandoned long before shows up in the town to seek revenge against the father he hates. This paper discusses how the story is not only about the reckoning of an individual human being with the wreckage of his past but also the story of the division between black fathers and black sons, a theme which is crucial to an understanding of this and other works by Gaines. It explores these aspects of the novel in the context of the painful beginning of the self-discovery of Martin in the novel.

From the Paper:

"Gaines portrays Martin not as an evil man, but as a man who is trying, both consciously and subconsciously, to redeem himself for his abandonment of his son, but what he has done has not healed his heart, or his son, or their relationship. The sins of his past were the sins of a young man, but clearly this rationale does not excuse him for those sins or exempt him from having to deal directly with those sins and the son against whom he committed them. Again, the essence of the story is the alienation of black father from black son, and only a direct confrontation can alter that alienation, although not necessarily for the better. After all, the son kills himself in the end of the book, so if there is any redemption it will come in the character of Martin. Despite the fact that Reverend Martin's last words to his wife are, "I'm lost, Alma. I'm lost," Alma restores hope for the future with the words, "We just go'n have to start again" (Gaines 214). "

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