The story written by Grace Paley "A Conversation with My Father" includes a story told within another story. The plot is based on dialogues between a daughter and her elderly father.
In the text the the father asks his daughter (writer) to tell him a story. She does it telling about a woman who lived in the neighborhood with her teenage son. The son becomes addicted to drugs and then the mother tried to share the addiction of her son assuming that it would make them closer to each other.
The first variant of the story told by the writer didn't satisfy the father because it is short and she didn't give any details. He says "You left everything out. Turgenev wouldn't do that. Chekhov wouldn't do that."
She retold the story making it longer: the son fall in love with the girl and gives up the bad habit and he demanded that his mother did it too. She couldn't and he left her alone.
The writer tried to continue the story choosing a better destiny for the heroes. The father isn't satisfied again because he sees a pessimistic end of the story. The daughter believed that the author had a right to create the destiny for her protagonists freely. The father became a pessimist or realist from his life experience. "In your own life, too, you have to look it in the face." He used a logic "A person must have character, She does not."
Paley finished her story with an open question: can a person change? She (or her protagonist) thinks I that every person or character of a story should be given a chance for a better life.
My interpretation of the moral of the story that this is about a writing style with:
- advice to draw a bright picture, to pay attention to every detail, as great writers do it;
- depicting the true story facing to the truth even if it is cruel;
- discussing freedom and restrictions for writers in constructing the plot.
We can see a great example of metaphorical description. Let's compare:
A simple description: The father is in a bad physical condition but with a clear mind.
Grace Paley's description: "His heart, that bloody motor, is equally old and will not do certain jobs any more. It still floods his head with brainy light. But it won't let his legs carry the weight of his body around the house."
Grace Paley plays with language, drawing from patterns the picture of real life. This story uncovers for readers the process, mechanics of writing and does it well.
This is a link to the audio about this story from The Guardian:
This story was discussed and corrected by the teacher Vitalii in online school albert-learning.com