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My Oedipus Complex

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Although it would appear that the father in My Oedipus Complex is the one in control, it is really the mother. The story focuses on Larry getting used to his father being back from the war and how it affects his relationship with his mother. Larry is no longer the only one in the house for his mother to focus on and worry about. This story does not express the male dominance in social order, which is particularly noticeable and odd when considering that the story takes place just after World War I. During that time, men held more power over woman than today.

Though at times it seems that the mother is desperately trying to please the father, she is really only drawing attention to herself. There are many times in the story that the mother says, “Just a moment, Larry ” or “Do be quiet, Larry ”(2). By saying those types of things, she is only increasing the competitiveness between Larry and his father. Pushing Larry away in those situations makes him more envious of the attention his mother is giving his father and makes him try harder to get that same attention. When the mother says “Don't wake Daddy ” she is not saying it for the benefit of the father but rather herself. When the father is sleeping and it is just her and Larry, there is no question that she is the one in control. During this time, the mother is able to exercise her authority freely.

Because Larry and his father compete for the mother's attention, it gives her the upper hand. Since both are so desperate for that attention, they will do anything to get it. This means that whatever the mother wants, she gets, which gives her power. Larry wants his mother's attention so badly he will even taunt his father to make him jealous. Saying things to his mother like, “I'm going to marry you.”and “we're going to have lots and lots of babies.”(7) Rather than the mother saying something to help him understand that he could never do that, she just goes along with it. Although such outrageous statements were surely thought of as funny, on some level it probably made the father a bit jealous, which the mother most likely expected.

As the story proceeds, it becomes even more clear that the mother is the one in control. When she gives birth to a baby boy named Sonny, Larry and his father are forced to compete for her attention not just with each other but also with the baby. The mother is in such control by the end of the story that she even has the power to kick the father out of bed for the baby.

It is clear that the mother was in full control throughout the whole story. It is because of Larry and the father's desperation for her attention that she had the upper hand. As the story went on, her control only increased, especially after the arrival of Sonny. This was unusual because there was no sign of the typical male dominance in social order. It is especially odd when considering the era that this story takes place since, during that time, males tended to be more dominant.



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