Father and Son

This study guide will help you analyse the text “Father and Son” by Bernard MacLaverty. We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on summary, plot and structure, characterisation, and themes.

Presentation of the text

Title: “Father and Son”
Author: Bernard MacLaverty
Genre: Short Story
Year of Publication: 1982

Bernard MacLaverty was born in 1942, in Northern Ireland. He is a much appreciated author of short stories and novels. His fiction is mostly inspired by life in the British Isles, with many of his works dealing with the conflict between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. One of his best known novels is “Cal”. The text of “Father and Son” was published in a collection of short stories titled “A Time to Dance”.


Below, you can read an excerpt from our study guide: 

Conflict and violence

Ultimately, the story is about conflict and violence at both societal and personal levels. The violent conflict in Northern Ireland makes both characters lose sleep and live in fear, but it also transcends the streets and is mirrored by the interactions between the protagonists. Though none of the characters is physically violent with the other, the son is definitely verbally violent with his father:

“What’s that? Under your pillow?"
"It’s none of your fucking business." 

At his turn, the father tries to act with authority and reproaches his son, always suspecting him of having done something wrong.

Their conflict is internalised...

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Father and Son

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