page 1 of 2
Mr. Perls leaves and father and son are left alone to finish breakfast together. Tommy is described as mountainous in this scene and is described eating a great deal, gorging, actually. His father is disgusted by him, by his unseemliness, by his manners, by his "idealistic" look.
Dr. Adler suggests to his son that he should go to the baths, since water cures ailments. He suggests water and exercise. The two then become involved in a discussion about Margaret, Tommy's wife who is asking him for money and is burdening him. Tommy vilifies her and talks about the divorce she refuses to grant him, about the attempted settlement in which he was willing to give her everything if he could just have the dog, Scissors. She refused him the dog. Dr. Adler responds by telling his son that he should not be giving her so much money, that he should not be allow himself to give in to her in the way that he does. He even suggests that his son is acting "effeminately." Dr. Adler confesses to not understanding his son's problems.
There is a scene in which Tommy tries to illustrate to his father that he is suffering and "suffocating" and begins to choke himself, to show his father what his wife is doing to him. His father becomes angry. Tommy tells his father that he could not possibly understand because he cannot compare his deceased wife, Tommy's mother, to Margaret and he cannot compare his success to Tommy's failures. Dr. Adler responds to his son that the reason why he was successful was because he worked hard for what he has and implies that his son has not. They continue to discuss and argue to no avail or understanding about Tommy's problems with his wife and his recent discharge from work.
Also mentioned in this chapter is the fact that Tommy had fallen in love with another woman, whose name will be revealed to be Olive. Margaret had found out and had not granted him a divorce. Moreover, Tommy has been unable to marry the woman he loves.
In the end, Tommy tells his father that he needs his help, that he "expects" his help. The father, however, refuses to give Tommy any money. He tells his son that he will not "carry" him on his back. He follows by telling his son to follow the same advice.
This chapter serves to further illustrate that father and son do not understand each other. This is the most important factor in their relationship. First and foremost, Dr. Adler suggests that his son go to the baths and that he treat himself to water and exercise. However, as has been illustrated in the previous chapters, the last thing a drowning man needs is more water. Moreover, the doctor's advice to his son is ineffective. Furthermore, Dr. Adler admits, straight out, to not understanding his son. "I come from a different world," claims his father. Although, Wilhelm rejects this generation gap as the reason for their differences it is not all together untrue. For, war created another America, and thus, father and son were raised in different worlds and have different belief systems.
Take a Study Break!