Family relationships change as time passes when the roles and responsibilities for an individual are reversed. The story ???A Devoted Son??? by Anita Desai demonstrates a relationship between father and son change from one of utmost admiration, devotion and respect to one of resentment and hostility. The son in the story, Rakesh, makes his parents extremely proud by becoming a brilliant doctor, venturing from his run down colony in India to the United States, and receiving distinguished accolades while working in the most prestigious of hospitals. Returning home to live with his parents however, to marry the girl they selected for him and to take care of them, made them more proud than any other feat. Not letting his success affect the morals his parents instilled in him, Rakesh was a great son and always put his parents first. With his success came fortune and fame and as an intensely devoted son he became the most devoted doctor. The change of authority figure from parent to child can have a negative effect on their relationship.
The family dynamic changed by Rakesh being not only his parents` son but doctor as well. Mother and son bonded on her death bed but the father, Varma, had much difficulty accepting his son`s authority as his doctor. With the deterioration of the father`s health came the deterioration of their relationship. A regulated diet was mistaken for disrespect. ???A son who actually refused his father the food he craved No, it was unheard of, it was incredible.??? All doctor??™s orders from his son were interpreted as a lessened devotion even though the reality was the exact opposite. ???Outwardly all might be the same but the interpretation has altered: his masterly efficiency was nothing but cold heartlessness, his authority only tyranny in disguise.??? Although his son was only trying to keep the old man in the best health possible to prolong his life for as long as possible, with old age, diminished health and the loss of his wife, he really started to resent his son. The author continually reminds us of the respect the son possesses for his father and of the lack of respect the father has for his son. Rakesh touched his father??™s feet every time he greeted him (a sign of respect and devotion in their culture), Varma however, constantly complained about the way Rakesh treated him and eventually pulled his feet away from him when he came near. Their relationship became extremely strained and the father stopped treating his son with respect.
Coming from two uneducated parents, the wealth Rakesh`s success brought was a first for the family. With the change of the name on the sign in front of the family`s property from his father`s to his own came many new luxuries; beautiful furniture, a radio and even servants. All the hard work Rakesh`s parents and himself put in and all the sacrifices made truly paid off. The father who once ruled the house was no longer allowed the free will to do as he pleased. Rakesh was now the man of the house and his word ruled. The author depicts the father constantly complaining and never appreciating the new, more luxurious, lifestyle. Before his health decreased Varma bragged about his son??™s success and gloated in the glory of having an outstanding doctor as a son. His attitude changes to ???That is how he treats me- after I have brought him up, given him an education, made him a great doctor. Great doctor! This is the way great doctors treat their fathers,??? referring to the denial of fried foods. Rakesh, understandably, grows very frustrated with his father, as such a great doctor he feels capable of restoring his father??™s health and having grown up respecting his father immensely he just wants what is best for his father. Family values instilled in him to the core made him feel obligated to do everything in his power to take care of his father.
Resentment invaded the relationship between father and son for a multitude of reasons, from the change in the role of authority in their house to the misinterpretation of the son??™s dedication to take care of his father. What the father was at first so very proud of became what he despised ???It was a strange fact, however, that talent and skill, if displayed for too long, cease to dazzle. It came that the most admiring of all eyes eventually faded and no longer blinked at his glory.??? A father and son closer than most become a doctor and an unruly patient. ???A Devoted Son??? shows us just how far a son will go to care for his father as his doctor and how that affects their relationship. Rakesh becoming the head authority figure in the relationship with his father brought about offence and aggression. What someone strives for can eventually become what they complain most about.
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