In the essay “Shooting Dad” by Sarah Vowell, we see how guns affected the relationship between Vowell and her father. From her childhood to her adult years, she was never a particular fan of guns; since her father was a gunsmith, they never had much in common. Even though guns were not the only thing they disagreed on, it caused a huge disconnection between them because it is something they were both passionate about. As an attempt to be persuasive, Vowell uses anecdotes throughout her essay to illustrate her point, help the audience understand her view on guns, and show the relationship she had with her father.
One of the anecdotes Vowell used is when she and her family moved form Oklahoma to Montana when she was just eleven years old. She shows the difference between the two states, concerning guns, which does not make her father happy: I knew our lives had changed one morning…[when] my father heard a noise and jumped out of his chair. Grabbing a BB gun, he rushed out the front door. Standing in the yard, he started shooting at crows. My mother sprinted after him screaming, ‘Pat, you might ought to check, but I don’t think they do that up here!
He shook his head, mumbling. (413) This gives the impression that Montana is not as open and welcoming to guns as Oklahoma. Although her father will not like the idea of that, Vowell is very pleased that her father won’t be able to shoot a gun whenever he wants to: “I looked up at those crows flying away and thought, I’m going to like it here” (413).
A gun, defined as a weapon consisting of a metal tube from which a projectile is discharged by the force of an explosive, was the object used by thousands of men as they fought from the freedom of the United States. The gun is the object in which 62% of murders are committed , but the gun is also the most effective form of self-defense . Guns have played a very important role in America's ...
This adds on to the reason why she does not have a close relationship with her father. The anecdote from when she first shot a gun helps illustrate why she never favored her fathers vocation.
She was six years old when her father gave her and her twin sister the opportunity to shoot a gun: “I remember holding the pistol only made me feel small…It was a very long time before I had the nerve to pull the trigger and I was so scared I had to close my eyes” (415).
Her sister ended up sharing the passion for guns with her father, while Vowell did not even want to touch another gun after that experience. Vowell disliked it so much that she compared the gun to a bully and thought of it as evil.
She writes, “I did what my mother told me to do every time I felt an evil presence. I looked at the smoke and whispered under my breath, ‘Satan, I rebuke thee’” (415).
She states that although she was not “traumatized” by the experience, she just did not want to have anything to do with guns—her father’s “little death sticks. ” As Vowell grew older, she wanted to try to mend her relationship with her father. She knew that she needed to find a way to connect with him before it was too late.
It would be difficult because they always disagreed on everything: “About the only thing my father and I agree on is the Constitution, though I’m partial to the First Amendment, while he’s always favored the Second” (412).
Even their political stance was different. One of them was a Republican and one was a Democrat, and she points out that the guns are mainly what caused that difference. She writes, “I have never subscribed to Guns & Ammo, [and] I did not plaster the family vehicle with National Rifle Association stickers” (412).
Although these differences might be hard for them to overlook, she was destined to change their relationship. In trying to become closer with him, of course, she starts out by wanting to understand his passion for guns. She states, “The older I get, the more I’m interested in becoming a better daughter. First on my list: Figure out the whole gun thing” (415).
She adds the anecdote of her father’s cannon and the time they went to shoot it together. Her father built a small cannon all on his own, and he had planned on going to shoot it: I called Dad and said that I wanted to come to Montana and watch him shoot off the cannon.
In American Literature, readers can find many stories and poems, both fiction and non-fiction, that center around family dynamics. The stories and poems usually focus on relationships within the family structure at a turning point in one of the central “character’s” lives. Some stories focus on a strong and positive maternal or fraternal central character with an offspring who ...
He was immediately suspicious. But I had never taken much interest in his work before and he would take what he could get…I’ve given this a lot of thought – how to convey the giddiness I felt when the cannon shot off…It’s just really, really cool. My dad thought so, too. (417) This shows one of the very few times that Vowell and her father have had something in common. She has not found the passion for guns, but she has acquired a liking for the cannon—a piece of equipment that will always connect them to each other.
That experience was the start of their new relationship. Vowell ends her essay referring to her father’s wish when he dies. He wants his ashes to be shot out of the cannon. She agrees to his wish and writes, “When I blow what used to be my dad into the earth, I want it to hurt” (419).
The “hurt” she mentions is both a physical and an emotional pain. It physically hurts her because of the loud sound it makes that hurts her ears. The emotional hurt comes from the fact that it is her father that she is shooting out of his own cannon.
Her pain would obviously still be present since her father will be dead, but with the connection made from shooting the cannon together, her pain will be more hurtful when she actually does it. This essay shows the progressive relationship between Sarah Vowell and her father. Although they did not share the same vocation and passion, they still came up with a way to strengthen their relationship, and have a connecting factor with one another. Her love for him and the desire of the relationship she wanted, allowed her to ignore her fear of guns and find anything to connect her to her father.