Mark Slouka, Crossing

A strong and trustful father-son relationship, I suppose, is any father’s greatest wish. But how do you get such a close relationship that binds the father and son faithfully together? With such a close relationship to each other, you will, when you turn into a grown-up man, really appreciate the family bond, and might have the desire to pass it on, to your own son. That is one of the main themes in Mark Slouka’s short story “Crossing”, where you gain an insight into a father in constant search of the role as a brave and courageous father.

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The father in “Crossing” takes his son on an extremely challenging trip that includes fording an enormously strong river. The father and son face such dangerous experiences that we are not sure whether the father’s wish for his son to become more grown-up comes true or not. The short story is written in a 3. Person narrator. We are giving an insight of the thoughts of an unhappy father due to the line: “(…) and he hadn’t been happy for a while. ”1 During the short story we are only introduced to the thoughts and ideas of the father, which narrows our knowledge down to only hearing the story from one aspect, the father’s.

On the one hand it makes the story much more simpler, with only one point of view, but on the other hand it differentiates the father’s feelings and thoughts, thus we get really close to the father by seeing everything through his eyes. According to the father these dangerous adventures will make the son and him friends: “He and his son would be friends. Nothing mattered more. ”2 In this sentence the narrator makes it clear to us that the father desperately wants for the son and him to be friends more than anything else. But because of the absence of the boy’s thoughts, we do not know if the boy feels the same way.

The only thing we know about the boy is that he is a small boy: “He looked over the miniature jeans (…) the hiking boots dangling off the floor. ”3 Due to this sentence and others as well, we get the impression that the he is a really small kid. The sentence: ”Dad, you okay? ”4, could indicate that the kid is not very fond of the challenges they meet on their way. There is a sense of doubt and insecurity in his voice. The wilderness, the little boy is being dragged into, is something the father himself has experienced with his own dad.

During the trip the father remembers things he, as a boy questioned his father: “So what do you do if you fall? ” It shows us that the experience the father had as a child with his own father had made a big impression on him, and he wants to carry it on to his own son. But the father has underestimated the power of the river, which detracts from the value of the trip. The father is in the river with his son on his back, without hesitating whether to continue or not. The responsibility is on him for the first time in a very long time. You could be tempted to believe that the father is divorced from the boy’s mother (p.

2 line 15), and therefore has been in a lot of sorrow and pain lately. That could also explain why he thinks that the trip is such a good idea. He wants to gain respect from his son, and he sees a real manhood trip as the way forward. A real manhood trip is a common thing amongst boys and men. It is a way of turning from a little boy into a real mature man, and every father wants his son to become a real man just like himself. That is probably another purpose of the trip, but does this exactly trip succeed in turning the boy into a much more mature kid?

You can interpret the river as a symbol of the state of confusion and perplexity the father is in. The extremely strong and mid-thigh current, the savage and the brute strength his is surrounded by are comparable to his own life situation by that time. He is no longer together with his wife/girlfriend: “For a long time he hadn’t wanted her back. ”5 Such a situation brings along loneliness and a feeling of guilt towards his son. The father is in serious danger, and he is collapsing, just like everything around is falling apart too.

He is balancing on the line between life and death in the river and in his current life situation. To sum up the father is in a critical situation and therefore very fragile. In deep frustration he takes his son on a trip into the wild. A trip that is way too dangerous for both him and the son. His intention of letting the boy experience something extreme and wild went too far. However the ending is really open, and lets us as readers decide whether they went down or not. I’m not sure if I think they made it or not, but I definitely think that the father was not able to judge if the boy was old enough for all those challenges.

The kid was without any doubt way too young to experience this, and I do not think it made him any more mature. I on the other hand think it probably would be quite the opposite. In conclusion you can tell that the divorced-father is desperate to get closer to his son and turn him into a mature young man. In his perplexity he forgets that his son is just a little boy. There are tons of other ways of strengthening the father-son relationship, but this man just chose the wrong decision. We are all human and mistakes do occur, but this decision was probably an unfortunate and unwise choice to make.