‘ The father also appears to be reckless, and always was when he was a pioneer according to his friends who spoke to his son. One said ‘When Still Bill (the father) gits a goin’ you jest go to give him a clean track and keep well under kivver. ‘ It is apparent that the father has always been violent and reckless, and maybe were other pioneers of his time. The pioneers did what they wanted, holding up banks etc (as the father does in the story) as there were no laws in the Wild West; the setting for this story. If there were laws in the Wild West, then the pioneer’s culture would have been completely different.
On the first page, Wild Bill Hickock, a pioneer well known for being ‘untamed’ is mentioned on the first page after the initial description of what a pioneer was. He deserved his nickname of ‘Wild’. The story briefly mentions the way of life in American towns in the Wild West, e. g. Trinity. Here, the settlers would not have travelled far out of the town after they had moved there as they were surrounded by barren land. Therefore the main culture in the town would have likely to have been the saloon culture, where all of the men would go to have a good time, as there was no other form of entertainment.
The author’s father is a hero from the battle of ‘Dobe walls; this is presumably Adobe walls and this shows that pioneers did not just go exploring and settling. The story mentions that the father had a cap and ball gun at this battle, and is shooting it off in the town where he is, until Ellen confiscates it. This shows that the gun culture present in America today originated way back with the pioneers. The father is probably always with his gun, not for defence probably, but more for ambushing and going on rampages, which he does in Trinity. The author’s wife, Ellen is in Trinity to dedicate a museum to the Spanish explorers.
The Spanish explorers are a very important part of American culture as it was the Spanish who first colonised north America, and were the first pioneers. Many cities on the West coast of America have Spanish names, e. g. Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento etc. Without the Spanish explorers, many of America’s greatest cities would not exist today. When the Spanish made settlements, the settlers spoke Spanish, and their descendants today do also. Many Americans speak Spanish as their first language, not English. The Spanish influence in the United States is still clear today.
Another clear feature about American culture in ‘My Father’ is the dominance of women. The author’s wife, Ellen is the one who stops the author’s father from ruining the celebration. When she and her husband check into the hotel, and her husband starts having a conversation that she doesn’t like, she simply tells him that they are going to their room. In the story, it says ‘When my father announced his intention of attending the reunion, my wife offered no objection. ‘ It says ‘announced’, not told, which implies that he had to get permission to go.
The author may have written ‘she had no objection’ as she usually does to other events that his father wishes to attend. All of this points to the fact that Ellen, and probably many other women out west, is very dominant. The reason that the majority of all the women out in settlements in the Western areas of the United States is that they originally migrated fro the East coast of the USA (after migrating there). To get to the Western states they would need to ride a horse for hundreds of miles (trains and cars did not yet exist). Only a very strong woman could do this.
Therefore, all of the settlers in the western areas of the USA were strong and dominant, so their descendants would also be strong and dominant. These women are strong in society; they are leaders. Many dominant women are members of the society ‘Daughters of the Revolution’, which is run by daughters of those who fought in the Battle of Independence. This is the society that Ellen is a member of and is making a speech to about the Spanish explorer’s museum. The language used in ‘My father’ is typical of the time that the story is set. Language is a very important part of culture.
Many words used in the story are words that are pronounced incorrectly, e. g. ‘Kivver’ (cover), ‘goin’,’ ‘rec’leck’ (recollect), ‘pop’lation’ etc. Many words that they say have had an ‘a’ added in front, e. g. ‘a-many’, ‘a-ring-tailed’ etc. There are words that are part of the American language but not the English that are used in this story, e. g. ‘buckskin’, ‘bunting’, ‘Daughters of the Revolution’, etc. There is not much slang used in this story, as most of the story is what the narrator is saying, and he appears to speak proper English without any slang or mispronunciations.