Mary Gaitskill's Tiny Smiling Daddy

1011 words 5 pages
The most difficult time in a child's relationship with his/her parents is mainly during its teenage years. These are times of rebellion, disagreement, strong emotion, psychological changes and sexual experimentation just to name a few. In Mary Gaitskill's short story "Tiny, Smiling Daddy", the main theme "of how people seek intimacy but don't know how to achieve it" (Gaitskill, 289) is conveyed by the author through the characters, symbolism and setting and imagery. Firstly, the two main characters in this story, Kitty and Stew, are crucial elements of the story to present its theme. When Kitty was a child, her and Stew were intimate. She would laugh at her father's jokes about playing with the hairs of his nose. (Gaitskill, 290) This …show more content…

In both cases, intimacy is not achieved. Thirdly, the setting and a few images in the story help in revealing the theme. The story takes place in Stew's house located in Wayne County. His house is a shield from the outside world. The fact that he is mostly in his living room remembering his daughter Kitty could mean that is the room where he feels closest to her. But she lives in South Carolina which is really far away from him. This physical distance is representative of the emotional distance between them, thus making it difficult for them to find intimacy. Stew is not only distant from his daughter; he seems to be disconnected from everyone else. (Gaitskill, 292) "He stopped at a crowded intersection, feeling like an ant in an enemy swarm. (Gaitskill, 292) The author makes it clear through this image that Stew is uncomfortable around strangers. Then, he is in the pharmacy's empty parking lot in front of a "weedy piece of land." "In it were rough, picky weeds spread out like big green tarantulas, young yellow dandelions, frail old dandelions, and bunches of tough blue chickweed." This image represents the hard ugly life his daughter went through. Yet, "he vaguely appreciated the beauty of the blue weeds against the cool white and grey sky." (Gaitskill, 295) The blue weeds symbolize Kitty; Stew appreciates the fact that although there were much oppositions in her life, she has made it through. This shows how Stew still loves his