Father and Daughter
I thought I’d share a few thoughts with you this evening, last night and the night before I did some extensive reading of “Louisa May Alcott:A Personal Biography” and as I kept reading, I found myself terribly disappointed in the father’s role in Louisa’s life.
He was what we would consider today a “dead beat” Dad, at least I think so, while Ms. Cheever I feel doesn’t go into extensive detail about the relationship between Louisa and her father, she does highlight his role as a father and husband within the family. I am finding though, the author is trying to single these two people out through her telling of Louisa’s life.
I constantly felt disappointed in his absence which like Ms. Cheever explains, may be the reason Louisa didn’t have a strong father character in “Little Women” because it was Abba Alcott who was the breadwinner, the one who fought for the family when it was bad, when it was hard. When Bronson Alcott was off dreaming, it was Abba who managed to keep the family together.
I thought it was extremely progressive of Abba to take a job in Boston to keep the family afloat from poverty, in the 19th century it was a rarity to see the woman go to work, they weren’t given a voice during that time. But I guess in Abba’s case, what had to be done needed to be done.
I admire her for that. I have always felt I could relate to some of my favorite authors such as Louisa, Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gilbert. Growing up I had a father who was absent in many ways. Unlike Bronson, my father worked extremely hard to put food on the table and I will always respect him for that, but he was never there for my brother and I emotionally and still isn’t today. He was always off dreaming through his music. While that too helped pay the bills, he neglected knowing his kids on the level he should have. Connection was never found.
It was my mother who ran a household, went to school full-time and had a full-time job. She made sure the lights were always on and that we were well taken care of both physically and emotionally. If I were like Louisa writing a book of my own, I too, probably wouldn’t include my own father.
I guess my resentment toward Bronson could in some way be re-directed to my own. My brother said not to long ago, that I was my father’s favorite because I was older, but I never felt that connection. I knew a father who was only partly there, a father who knew how to discipline and criticize rather than console and understand.
Like Abba, my mother always made father’s shortcomings acceptable. It is a wonder Louisa never married, how could she feel any real connection to any man, when the one man didn’t know how to a strong role model in her life.