American Literature

Character Analysis Luke Ripley a Fathers Story by Andre Dubus



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Stories often have a main character that is centered on because he/she fails at some responsibility of theirs or falls short of their goal. In "A Father's Story" written by Andre Dubus, Luke Ripley is a character that succeeds in his responsibilities as a father. Luke shows love, compassion and above all a protective instinct and desire to help his daughter. He emphasizes that he is very religious although perhaps not very devout. All of these characteristics help him fulfill his fatherly duties to his daughter during her stay at his house.
Luke has had an interesting life preceding the main events of the story. He has lost his entire family, making him alone in a large house with nothing but horses and a radio to keep him company. Despite those trials, Luke has it inside him to continually show love to his family when they do return, especially to his daughter even though she kills a man. Andre Dubus emphasizes this love and compassion Luke has through some of the background information he gives leading up to the main events of the story. Dubus shows small details that Luke a centers his attention on and the efforts that Luke puts forth to try and love his family after they leave him. There also comes a point in the story where Luke's heart's "longing to love" as he calls it, makes him bitter with Father Paul.

Luke's friendship with Father Paul brings about another very interesting character trait in Luke. This is his religious side. Based on the way that Luke recounts the events of his life, religion is a mayor part and focus of his life. He seems not to be very devout and strict; he says that "being a real Catholic is too hard." Still though, he goes to each Sunday Mass and Father Paul is his best, and in truth his only friend. Luke wakes up early each morning and rides his horse to the church. Luke falters only twice as far as his chastity and marriage beliefs are concerned and he describes those two incidents as having been in the distant past and not a reoccurring habit. Luke also realizes that he cannot force or tell his children what to believe but he still tries to point them in the direction that he believes to be right. Luke explains that his religion and Father Paul help to keep him company and keep him strong when his family left him.

The main focus of this story however is not about Luke's love and compassion, or his religion; it is about just his fatherly instinct and desire to protect and help his daughter. The entire story, up till the climax point, is aimed at Luke's ability to empathize with his daughter and provide her with the comfort and help that she needs. First of all, Jennifer is the youngest child, the baby in the family. This automatically puts her in the position to receive more attention and care from her father. Jennifer also seems to be the one that visits her father the most often and for the longest periods of time. Luke enjoys the time that he gets to spend with his daughter. He relishes in the little details and subtle changes that take place over time. He points out how they are growing up and getting steadily more mature. Luke shows us that he understands and empathizes with his daughter and her transformation into a young adult when he says, "it was womanhood they were entering, the deep forest of it, and no matter how many women and men too are saying these days that there is little difference between us, the truth is that men find their way into that forest only on clearly marked trails, while women move about in it like birds.

Jennifer then wakes her father in the middle of the night to tell him that she has just hit a man, and might have killed him. This is enough to test any father's love, patience, and temper. But Luke rises to the occasion and his character doesn't falter he firsts comforts his daughter and learns the whole story of what has taken place and what has upset her so badly. Then after she has calmed down, and only after she has calmed down, Luke leaves to try and find this man. The result is that Luke finds the man, and watches him die because he is powerless to save him at this point, he does not tell his daughter this, he only says that the man is dead. Then Luke says something interesting, he tells us "If one of my sons had come to me that night, I would have phoned the police and told them to meet us with an ambulance at the top of the hill I could bear the pain of watching and knowing my sons' pain but never my daughter's." This illustrates with perfect clarity Luke's special love for his daughter and desire to protect her in a way that varies greatly from that of his feelings for his sons.

Stories often have a main character that is centered on because he/she fails at some responsibility of theirs or falls short of their goal. In "A Father's Story" written by Andre Dubus, Luke Ripley is a character that succeeds in his responsibilities as a father. Luke shows love, compassion and above all a protective instinct and desire to help his daughter.

 

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