Monday, May 25, 2015

Father Figure - Part 2

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967; dir. Stanley Kramer)

John Prentice (Sidney Poitier), a distinguished African American physician, finally barks back at his father, who's trying to browbeat him out of marrying a white girl.  His father's a retired mailman. He says he's proud of what John has done with his life, but

MR. PRENTICE  But I worked my ass off to get the money to buy you all the chances you had! You know how far I carried that bag in thirty years?  Seventy-five thousand miles.  And mowin’ lawns in the dark so you wouldn’t have to be stokin’ furnaces...  and couId bear down on the books.  And what l mean to say is--

JOHN:  You’ve said what you had to say.
You listen to me. You say you don’t want to tell me how to live my life? What do you think you’ve been doing? You tell me what rights I’ve got or haven’t got... and what I owe to you for what you’ve done for me.  Let me tell you something.
I owe you nothing.
If you carried that bag a million miles, you did what you were supposed to do... because you brought me into this world ... and from that day you owed me... everything you could ever do for me, like I will owe my son... if I ever have another.


Those Winter Sundays
By Robert Hayden (1913 - 1980)

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.
I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,
Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?

Part 1 - Part 2
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