The Supportive Role of Parents in "Not Bad, Dad, Not Bad" and "Those Winter Sundays"

The vital and crucial suppon given by parents and family members is often overlooked in many situations the poems “Not Bad, Dad, Not Bad” by Jan Heller Levi and “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden signify the importance of realizing the diligent work that parents give to their children. The child narrator in “Not Bad, Dad, Not Bad” describes the enduring problems between the child and father through the metaphor of swimming, where the narrator comes to realize the hard efforts of the father even when there are problematic and distant relationships.

Similarly, the man narrator in “Those Winter Sundays” describes his apathy and discontent with his father in his childhood where he now considers and appreciates the actions of love from his father Both “Not Bad. Dad, Not Bad” and “Those Winter Sundays” describe the importance of realizing the crucial support and assistance of parents in children‘s everyday lives. In the poem, “Not Bad. Dad. Not Bad,” Jan Heller Levi utilizes conceit and descriptive comparisons to portray the importance of realizing the powerful suppon of family members.

The narrator shows no appreciation for the father in the beginning of the poem as the narrator states. “You’re neither fantastic nor miserable at getting from here to there you wouldn’t win any medals, Dad, but you wouldn’t drown”. The narrator’s lack of appreciation for the father is depicted through the extended metaphor of swimming, this is shown when the narrator describes the father as being neither fantastic nor miserable in swimming showing that the narrator judges the father’s abilities as being reasonable and not the greatest.

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Furthermore, the narrator‘s description of the father not winning medals. and not drowning portrays the idea that the narrator thinks of the father as being an okay parent, but nothing extraordinary or special.

Near the end of the poem, the narrator realizes the father‘s influence and support on the narrator’s life: “I always thought 1 was drowning in that icy ocean between us”. The narrator uses the metaphor of an icy ocean to describe the distant feelings with the father. Additionally, the narrator describes that he she was always “drowning” which shows that the narrator thought that he she was always going through struggles with his/her father, but never thought to realize how influential the father has been on the narrator‘s life by always trying his best to support the narrator. Ultimately, the metaphor of swimming, which Levi incorporates in the novel, “Not Bad, Dad, Not Bad,” demonstrates the importance of respecting and realizing the support of a father even when faced with distant and difficult situations or relationships. The theme of recognizing and appreciating hard work from parents fathers continues in the poem.

“Those Winter Sundays,” written by Robert Hayden. Hayden uses the literary elements of descriptive imagery through the hard work of the father, and the technique of presenting the narrator’s flashback. At the beginning of the poem. the narrator‘s father works so hard for the narrator and his family as the narrator describes, “with cracked hands that ached from labor in the weekday weather made banked fires blazer. No one ever thanked him” Hayden uses descriptive language and imagery to present the idea of the father always working hard for the narrator‘s family. This is developed through many words like “cracked” and “ached’fi these descriptive words describe the father’s pain and struggles to provide a warm and lively home. The setting and time of the poem are also symbolic since the title states, “Winter Sundays.”

Sundays are the day to rest and not work, but Hayden incorporates this title to demonstrate the endless amount of work that the father does for the family without thinking for his own good. The narrator does not understand these struggles as he is indifferent about the father’s support for the household. The narrator is uncaring about his father, even when he has made the house warm and has polished the narrator‘s shoesr At the end of the poem, the narrator realizes the struggles of the father and states, “What did 1 know, what did I know of love’s austere and lonely offices?” (Hayden 13-14) The narrator realizes and considers that his father was there to serve him. He was caring and loving towards the narrator and always tried to assist him her in the best way possible, Hayden uses the literary device of a flashback to show that the narrator is looking back at his feelings towards his father in his old age.

The narrator appreciates the father for giving the narrator a suitable life through the father’s love for him. In close, Hayden uses the literary devices of descriptive words/imagery and flashbacks to portray the theme of appreciating and considering the support that family members give children in life Both “Not Bad, Dad, Not Bad” and “Those Winter Sundays“ demonstrate the idea of appreciating the hard work of parents, but the narrators of both poems develop this theme in two different situations. In the poem, “Not Bad, Dad, Not Bad” the narrator understands the important help of the father through the metaphor of swimming which Levi incorporates into the poem the narrator does not see how the father is imponant through a distant relationship. In comparison, in the poem, “Those Winter Sundays,” the narrator disregards the father in the most unconventional way.

The narrator refuses to acknowledge the father in the poem as the narrator states, “No one ever thanked him” (Hayden 5). The narrator does not have any sympathy towards the father for getting up each morning to provide the best support for the narrator’s family. This differs from the narrator in “Not Bad, Dad, Not Bad,” as the narrator understands that her father is helping. but thinks it is not to his best ability. Additionally, the action of realizing the support of family is vastly different between the two narrators. In “Not Bad, Dad, Not Bad,” the narrator‘s realization is caused when the narrator appreciates the father for helping when there has been problems between them as the narrator states, “But I always thought I was drowning in that icy ocean between us” (Levi 13-14). The narrator has had many problems with the father as he she feels like “drowning,“ which shows the struggles of the narrator in life.

The icy ocean further develops the idea of the narrator always having this distant barrier between the father, but he/she comes to realize that the father has always tried to support the narrator, even though many problems In “Those Winter Sundays,” the narrator is unconcerned and indifferent with the father throughout the entire poem. The narrator‘s realization comes after the hard work the father has done for the narrator. The narrator understands the love and the services the father gave to him/her later in his old age, and understands his mistake in not realizing his father’s conscientious work effort ultimately, the two situations between the poems are vastly different as the realization process of both characters is contrasting due to time, and their actions to their fathers in the end of the poems show their understanding for respect and appreciation that should be given to parents.

In conclusion, both “Not Bad, Dad, Not Bad” by Jan Heller Levi and “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden portray the theme of having respect and appreciation for the parents and family members who assiduously help in life even when there are tough and isolated relationships. The poem “Not Bad. Dad. Not bad” demonstrates the significance of always respecting the hard work of parents even through their struggles with them Levi uses the extended metaphor of swimming to describe the isolated and troubling feelings of the narrator about his/her father, where the narrator then realizes that the father has always made his best effort to give the narrator a moral life.

The poem, “Those Winter Sundays” similarly identifies the idea of recognizing the intricate jobs and work that parents have to do to sustain a family, similarly to the narrator in “Not Bad, Dad, Not Bad” the narrator does not see the hard-working side of his father, but the narrator thinks that the father is only doing this because it is necessary to sustain the family, and not out of love for the narrator. In his old age, the narrator acknowledges the love and care that was given into the services to better the life of the narrator. There are many situations in life where parents might be thought as being mean and unpleasant as in always pointing out mistakes, leading to further struggles and a distant barrier, but the resistant effort and support they give to children should never be overlooked which is portrayed in both “Not Bad, Dad, Not Bad” and “Those Winter Sundays.”

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The Supportive Role of Parents in "Not Bad, Dad, Not Bad" and "Those Winter Sundays". (2023, Jan 11). Retrieved from

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