Tom Garrison Character Analysis

– I Never Sang For My Father Essay, Research Paper

Robert Anderson s play I Never Sang for My Father is an emotional story about Gene Garrison and his father, Tom Garrison, attempting to love one another. His father s abandonment and his mother s early death traumatized Tom Garrison as a child. Forced to take care of himself and his siblings, he grew up fast, cold and emotionally detached. As an adult, Tom Garrison is controlling, self-centered and materialistic. His demanding methods and distant emotions prevent he and his grown children from being able to love and communicate with each other.

As an adult, Tom Garrison had been very successful and well respected. Through determination he accomplished more than anyone would have expected. Early in life I developed a will of iron . Tom used that same will of iron to raise and control his children. Tom drove his own daughter, Alice out of his life by refusing to accept her choice of a husband. Alice recalls her father and Gene s relationship by saying He was mean, unloving. He beat you when you were a kid. You ve hated and feared him all your adult life . To the outside world, Tom was quite a fella . Although she s reluctant to acknowledge it, even Tom s wife, Margaret, admits that she has suffered neglect and fear from her husband.

Tom Garrison presents two different faces to the world and his family, but he also has two internal conflicts. Tom is insecure and discontented. He struggles to maintain a strong outward appearance. Many times he remarks I can take care of myself. Don t worry about me . Yet on other occasions he strains to be sensitive and show his love. He seems to genuinely care about his wife, saying Is there a draft in here? I like to keep Mrs. Garrison out of drafts . He displays devotion to his wife when he says, Your wish is my command . He tries to show love for Gene, but his attempts are rejected. As he turns to go he puts his arm around Gene s shoulder page 575. Several times Tom states I can t tell you what a comfort it is knowing your down in the city. Don t know what we d do without you .

Tom appears to be a self centered person. At every opportunity, he turns the conversation toward himself. It s ironic that on several occasions he is disgusted with friends and acquaintances because All they want to do is tell you the story of their lives . He is so self-absorbed that he doesn t even know he s describing himself.

After his mother s death Gene makes a sincere effort to reconcile with his father. He suggests that his father move with him to California. When forced to choose between maintaining his strong image and demonstrating love for his family, Tom is unable to weaken. He s spent so many years proving to himself and the world that he is worthy, that he just can t succumb to tenderness.

In the end, Tom is a lonely and abandoned man. The very things that he fought with his iron will to overcome, are lost. He desperately fought to overcome the loss of his parent s love and ultimately sacrificed his children s love.


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