The Dead Father Study Guide

The Dead Father

The Dead Father by Donald Barthelme

"The Dead Father" is being hauled with a cable by some of his children, across lands and under all weather conditions, towards a goal of an emancipatory nature but that is left mysterious throughout most of the story, to be revealed, at the end of the novel, to be his burial spot.

The story, in a genre typical of the author, does not follow a conventional plot structure, but evolves through a series of revelations, seemingly-unrelated stories, anecdotes, dialogues,descriptive figments, surreal snapshots of reality, personal rendering of the characters' impressions or recordings. The whole of chapter 22 is a stream of bizarre, deconstructed sentences, as if muttered by a narrator too imbued by the urgency of his thoughts to give attention to proper grammar, giving the impression of a deep penetration in the character's consciousness. The plot is thus, more than in other novels, a support for the themes explored. The text is also noted for its word play, irony, absurdist humor, that are abundant in the author's short stories.

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