In “Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness” Oe explores two father-son relationships: one prematurely cut and the second, inversely, abundant with parental attention. The story concentrates around a man who has lost his father too early to have appropriately bonded with him, as well as this man’s relationship with his won new born son who, ironically, will never appreciate his fathers efforts due to a mental defect.
The plot unfolds as the main character vainly attempts to investigate his father’s mysterious death after the elder’s long and unexplained isolation. He feels the lack of an enduring relationship with his father must be the source of aberration that has struck his own life. More often than not boys tend to grow closer with their fathers than they do with their mothers. A certain bond becomes forged between father and son, a bond than helps both get through the hardships of life. The destruction of such a bond may prove to have potentially long-term traumatic effects on the young man, as he is left bitter and without appropriate guidance. This seems to be the case with the main character of Oe’s story.
A possible resolution, however, presents itself at the arrival of a new born son – an opportunity for the man deprived of a relationship with his father to mend his troubles by raising the child of his own in a healthy family atmosphere. But the main character’s childhood trauma finds itself into his adult life. Unable to cope with this loss and still wanting to have know his parent, he resurrects his father through a biographical text. He then begins to take this recreation to an extreme and, perhaps subconsciously, begins to imitate his father’s final years of life. At this point he may be entertaining hope that if he follows through in his father’s last footsteps he will come to face the same demons his father did and discover the mysterious reason for his beloved parent’s untimely departure.
In time he ...