A Story by Li-Young Lee presents an affectionate relationship between a father and his son, both of them searching for the right words to say to one another. The father worries that he has exhausted his supply of interesting stories and frantically pines for something, anything that will keep his son interested. He realizes that his son will eventually grow up and lose the cheerful admiration with which he looks at his father now. Through the use of literary techniques, Lee builds up the internal conflict of the father and his desperation to be his son’s hero while the position is still available.
The point of view switches intermittently throughout the poem between an omniscient narrator, the father, and his son. The narrator provides a comprehensive outlook on the scene, and tells most of the plot in a detached and observant manner. As the viewpoint switches to the father, the depth of his despondency is ed. When he anticipates what the future will hold for himself and his son, he cannot think of any other stories but the ones he has already told, and cries “Don’t go!… Let me tell it,” hopelessly searching for a reason his son should not leave him.
Lines 16-18 exhibit the anguish he feels because he cannot live up to the standards he believes his son holds for him. The son’s perspective is only shown twice, both times with a plea for a new story. At a young age, the child looks to his father as a provider of endless knowledge and joy, but will his attention still last when he grows older and finds new sources of entertainment? Both characters are in distress, and the father’s pain is a result of his son’s constant search for happiness. Each stanza of the poem presents a separate topic, but all correspond to the theme of distress.
... Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son ... relationship. The communion between God the Father and God the Son is the core of their relationship. ... oppression and persecution, (4) weariness in the search for God, or any number of other problems we ... up with the phrase, 'I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you ...
The first two lines present the thesis, and are supported by the details of each following stanza. The father’s slight consternation, shown by his nervous movements in line 5, evolves into a panic of agony by the 4th stanza as he becomes increasingly distraught. Lee shows the irony in that the father is surrounded by a world of stories of all kinds, and yet he cannot recall a single one when he most needs it. The content of the poem moves from the present to the future, and then back again, giving a brief insight into what the father believes will come to pass if he fails to satisfy his son’s expectations.
The final lines demonstrate the “emotional equation” of the father and son’s relationship in which the need to give and the desire to provide add up to nothing. Lee organizes his poem in a manner that introduces a problem, and then moves beyond the present to the final conclusion if a suitable solution is not found in time. He switches viewpoints between the father and son to enhance the absoluteness of the problem they create for one another. Woe and uncertainty plague the minds of both individuals, and the only way to fill the void is to create something out of nothing.