Saturday Climbing By Valgardson


Saturday Climbing By Valgardson Essay, Research Paper

At first, after reading Saturday Climbing, I found it just to be a simple plain

story. A story about Barry climbing a cliff and having flashed back about his

daughter. But when I went over the story a several more times, I notice the

cliff is actually representing the relationship between Barry and his daughter,

Moira. It was a story that shows a single father perspective towards his

daughter. W.D. Valgardson uses much symbolism in his story, Saturday Climbing,

to help reader gain a greater understanding of his message. He uses symbolism in

two important areas: objects that have symbolic value, and setting, which

relates the relation between father and daughter. Many object in Saturday

Climbing have important symbolic value. For example, the "chock nut, the

wire loop, the carabiner, the rope", represents the relation between Barry

and Moira. "ЎKfragile as they looked, would hold ten times his

weight." Like a rope although their relation seems fragile, but it’s

stronger then it seems. The cliff itself is another important symbol. It shows

their relation, as time pass by. "Then, unexpectedly, the surfaces

smoothed; the places where he could get a secure hold were spread farther and

farther apart." This quotation reflects the difficulty Barry encounters in

his role as a working, single-parent of a teenager. Barry’s secure hold on the

rocks, symbolise his monitoring of his daughter. As Moira becomes more

independent, it is harder and harder for Barry to keep watching her and make

sure she’s safe. Moira is going out late to parties and on dates. Barry can’t be

with her all day, and therefore can’t maintain her security. The secure holds

can also symbolise the direction the relationship between Barry and Moira is

heading. It seems that they are distancing themselves from each other. Barry has

trouble keeping track of what Moira does, and Moira is willing to let Barry into

her world by telling him what’s going on. "At the same time, the numerous

cracks dwindled until there was no place to set any protection." This

refers to the dwindling of the relationship. It is beginning to crack, or break

apart under the stress and pressure. It also symbolises the aspect of growing up

that one becomes more independent. Barry will be able to protect Moira less and

less, as she starts to find her own way. When Barry is stuck half way up the

cliff, it represents that Barry has encountered a problem with Moira. "If

he fall, he would drop twenty-five feet to the piton, then twenty-five feet past

it before his rope came taut and held him. There was, because of the elasticity

of the rope, a chance that he would ground out." This is also

representative of the risks Barry is willing to take for his daughter in order

to salvage their relationship. Barry would go to extremes for his daughter. The

exert also shows that one fall and it could be all over. This is the case in the

climb and it is the same in parenthood. A fall could prove fatal, and would lead

to failure. In each situation, Barry is under enormous pressure to succeed.

Barry," ЎK set his foot on rough patch that would provide the

necessary friction to hold his weight." The relationship between the main

characters is tested throughout. It is often pushed to the edge, on the brink of

disaster. Even though it may seem bleak, the relationship prevails. Just as

Barry seems to be able to get himself out of the predicaments on the climb, the

father-daughter relationship has overcome its own obstacles. "His daughter,

eighty feet below, seemed so small that Barry felt he could lift her into his

arms." Barry still views Moira as being his little girl. She appears small

and innocent. She seems too young to be out in the cruel and harsh world. This

view of her may never change, but Barry’s level of acceptance of Moira’s

independence will. "From time to time, she paused to pull loose the chock

nuts and pitons her father had left behind." By pulling out the pitons and

chock nuts, Moira is saying metaphorically, that she doesn’t require her

father’s protection. She wants to handle things on her own, and take on

obstacles (such as school) by herself too. "For a moment, he suffered

vertigo, and the cliff seemed to sway as if in an earthquake." This is

symbolic of the fact that Barry is afraid to go on because of the uncertainty

that surrounds the future (especially concerning his daughter). He is fearful of

changes that my come as a result of his daughter’s independence and its impact

on their relationship. Barry doesn’t want his daughter to become like the

"frizzy-hair girl". The swaying of the cliff could also represent the

shakiness, and precariousness of their relationship, like when they fight and

argue. The frizzy-hair girl represents a child who ran away from home. "For

the first time, he had seen how much younger she was than he though." From

this quotation we know that she’s not mature enough. She wasn’t prepared to be

independent. Her situation is for Barry to see as an example. The girl is like a

bird trapped in a cage. The more the owner wants to contain it, the more it will

want to rebel. And for the girl, her father has tried to trap her so much that

she ran away, keeping herself from him. Barry is faced with an epiphany, a

sudden realisation when he really sees the girl. "Once, when she deviated

from the route her father had taken, she became stuck at an overhang. Not having

dealt with the obstacle himself, Barry could not help, and had to leave her to

find her own solution." This part of the story signifies the moment that

Moira breaks off from her father and tries to go her own way. As expected, she

had some problems but she was able to conquer them, and reached her goal. This

is true in real life as well. It is essential for Moira to learn to solve these

problems on her own, because she can’t rely on her Dad forever. This new route

is evident where Moira has decided not to attend the local university. By going

to one out of state, this is a new world that Barry knows little about, and will

leave Moira figuring out her problems on her own. "The climb seemed

agonisingly slow, as if it would never be completed. "The ordeal takes what

seems like an eternity for Barry. He sees his daughter in trouble and

instinctively he wants to help her, only he can’t. He is forced to sit and wait

and see if she makes it. When Moira is all right, Barry sees that he’s raised a

daughter that can take care of herself. He becomes more accepting of the idea of

his daughter moving on in life. "They sat side by side, sipping orange

juice, their feet dangling in space." Barry begins to see his daughter as

an equal and as an adult. They’re now levelled with each other, seeing eye to

eye. They’ve opened up and are expressing what’s on their minds. "Sitting

side by side", they are both independent individuals with their own ways.

"Below her, her father ever watchful, full of fear, smoothly paved out the

rope, determined to give her all the slack she needed while, at the same time,

keeping his hands tensed, ready to lock shut, ready to absorb the shock of any

fall." This final paragraph shows the new approach to parenting Barry has.

He is now willing to be a spectator, rather than an active player in Moira’s

life. Barry is willing to give her space and freedom, but he will always be

there to save her should she fall. Barry is ready to let Moira continue this

climb solo. The story examines the relationship between parents and their

children as they grow up and become independent. Furthermore, it is a story

about change of attitudes concerning when it is time for the kids to move on.

Saturday Climbing specifically focuses on two characters, the first is the main

character Barry, and his daughter Moira. Throughout the story, we are told the

relation between Barry and Moira. Early in the story, we notice that Barry is

climbing up a cliff. Barry is a father who must learn to deal with his daughter

growing up and wanting her independence. Moira, the teenaged daughter, seeks to

escape from her father’s protective grasp and explore the world on her own. She

wishes to be able to face her own challenges in her own ways. Moira wants to

take on more responsibility and freedom – two wishes her father is wary to give

her. Barry feels that Moira is too young, and not ready to handle this new

power. Moira, on the other hand, craves these things and believes she is up to

the task. In Barry’s eyes, Moira will always be his little girl that he’s under

no circumstance willing to part with. It is this image that Moira is trying to

change, and replace with her own personal view of being an adult. However, as is

the case with most other parents, Barry is reluctant to let his baby grow up too

quickly. To him, it was just "last year" Moira lost her first tooth,

and started kindergarten just "six months" ago. Barry has trouble

dealing with the fact that his daughter is all grown up and looking to leave the

"nest". What fears Barry the most is the diminishing need for him to

help his daughter. Barry feels that he’s losing his daughter because she no

longer needs in him in certain aspects anymore. For example, rides to activities

make her dinner, etc. He wants to hang on to his daughter for just a little bit

longer to prolong her childhood. Barry does not want to be left behind. This

fear of being left behind and forgotten is amplified by the fact that Barry is

single. When Moira goes off to college, Barry all by himself. It is because of

this outcome that Barry realises how much he depends on Moira for companionship.

Barry, despite being a working single- parent, makes a lot of time for his

daughter. With the absence of Moira’s mother, Barry tries to compensate as best

as he can to fill the void. He puts a lot of effort in finding an activity they

can both share an interest in. Through rock-climbing together, they have made

great strides in strengthening their relationship. They are forced to rely and

trust one another. It also gives Moira that responsibility and freedom she

wants. The use of a controlling metaphor of the climb representing the

development in the relationship between Barry and Moira provides and insightful

look at their progression. As they climb the cliff, one can see the transition

in parenting Moira. At the beginning of the story, we find Barry "sixty

feet up the cliff", with Moira safely down on the ground. This ideal

situation if Barry’s mind. Later we see Moira begin her climb and she chooses to

take some routes not taken by her father. She is proclaiming her independence,

and proves to Barry that she can make it on her own. When she reaches him,

they’re now levelled with each other. Both equal, both adults. This is the first

time, Barry realises that his daughter is grown up and no longer his little

girl. At the end of the story we watch as Barry cautiously lets Moira go off to

blaze her own trail. Barry remains ready to save his baby should she fall. Barry

accepts Moira’s independence and realises he can’t continue on holding her back.

Another important aspect of the story is the use of flashbacks with the

"frizzy hair girl". This character seems strange at first, but it is

not until her significance to the events in the story does it become clear how

important she is. Her two quotes lead Barry to change his attitude towards his

approach to raising Moira. "The caged bird proves nothing but the power of

the captor", and "The world seeks balance; extremism begets

extremism", help Barry realise what he must do. By caging the bird, and

denying it its freedom, it only feeds its hunger for it. When the bird is

finally let out, it will try to get as far away as possible. The girl with

frizzy hair was this bird. She had an over-protective father, and she decided to

go across the country to get away from his control. This helped Barry understand

that the more he tries to keep Moira in the "nest", the more

resentment there will be. The other quote says that extreme actions have extreme

reactions. The more Barry tries to control Moira, the more likely she is to

rebel. If Barry continue on controlling Moira’s life, he would fall like Ron. He

would fail to be a father and end up like the frizzy hair girl’s father. The

best thing Barry can do is to minimise his "protection". The

"frizzy hair girl" represented what could happen to Moira, this

triggered a turnaround in Barry’s ways. In a sense, the "frizzy hair

girl" acted as a catalyst. The last bit of the story is demonstrative of

the fact that Barry has a different role as a parent from now on. Barry is now

there to provide a safety net should Moira fall. He will be there ready to catch

her. Other than when his help is asked for, Barry is now and observer watching

whether or not he did a well enough job in raising his daughter. Moira begins

setting off climbing a new section of the cliff, and this time she will lead.

She starts out boldly up the unknown cliff, ready to tackle the next section of

it. As she climbs, she begins her journey through adulthood, and perhaps one day

she will be leading her own child on this rock. At this point, Barry no longer

sets the protection for Moira. She is expected to do that for herself. As a

loving father, he dreads the day that it seems he is no longer needed. By the

end of the story, Barry reaches the realisation all parents must come to in

time. He realises that it is time for him to let his daughter go. He will remain

there next to her supporting, but his job is limited. When there is a need he is

ready to step in and resume his role as a caregiver. Until that time comes, he

will give Moira "all the slack she needs while, at the same time, keeping

his hands tensed, ready to lock shut, ready to absorb the shock of any

fall." In conclusion, I think this story refers to most family. Children

will always grow up and leave their parents some time in life. Parents should

support them and be happy instead of holding them back. For example, my brother

just came back from Japan. When he left Calgary, my parents were pretty worried

about him having trouble being independent, but my parents supported by brother

all the way. But if my parents have held my brother back, he might have lost a

chance to work in Japan. Indeed, a parent caring for child is important, but how

much they are caring is even more important. Too much might not give them a

chance to mature, but too little might ruin their life. So parents have great

responsibility in looking after their child, so much responsibility that it

might give them stress which might effect their life.

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