On Arm Wrestling with my Father by Brad Manning



This research will begin with the statement that the poignant, tough-love dictum of Brad Manning’s best-known work belies a glaring social issue that is a prevalent yet continuously undermined facet of everyday family life.&nbsp. A lot of times there are numerous cases where we see doting fathers being hopelessly ignored by their reticent children. The essay centers around an admiring, proud son and his cold, indifferent father, along with the glaring fracture in their relationship.&nbsp. In so many cultures around the globe, the father-son interaction oftentimes proves to be a sort of unspoken rivalry, a continuous bout of machismo where neither one will give way, and yet in so many ways, this continues to remain unaddressed. Manning uses rhetoric in such a way that he repeatedly uses metaphors to address his relationship with his father, most of which are centered around arm wrestling. He calls his father “the arm”, or “the master with clenched fists”, and within that context reflects on how the pendulum of superiority and dominance in their relationship has slowly swung towards him. Upon closer examination, this is a fact which his father is either oblivious to or chooses to be indifferent to. Does the rhetoric utilized suffice? In the researcher’s opinion, it was effectively wielded given the context and tone of the essay. Manning sounds very solemn, even poignant in outlining his experiences. Hence, the numerous metaphors and “special names” he uses in addressing his father are appropriate. The author offers a clear point of how he had immensely parlayed these experiences into his own adult life. When he offers that "the man would win" it highlights just how impersonal and cold their relationship had turned out. Arm wrestling had become their only form of communication, and as he grew older his gradual erosion into his father’s superiority base only contributed to the strain. This is what happens when a son grows up in an environment with an "alpha male" dominating the entire household. Somehow, reading between the lines of Manning’s haunting prose, one would see his seemingly unspoken regret at how the entire thing played out. One would get the impression that this his childhood experiences served as the definitive force in molding his latter-day character, and that this was something he would not subscribe to as a parent. The use of flashbacks has always been considered to be a double-edged sword. It could either greatly augment one’s narrative, or completely take a story off-tangent. In this essay, Manning has effectively interjected his heartfelt experiences during the course of the narrative to further illustrate the high and low points of his relationship with his father. Going through their experiences, while his father comes off as the type who would never say "I love you" to his son. However, through his seeming drive to impart life lessons through arm wrestling, his tough love approach seems to have rubbed off on his son, albeit after many years of soul-searching and eventual realization. The author offers "clear as day" recollections of the events in question, much like these experiences merely happened the day before.