The story begins
The transcript continues with the following:
1 S: [That's] $r(h)ight.
2 Heh heh heh.$ .hh Well (.) you know giving- giving Clinger (.) a bath
3 (.) is a challenge I'm sure. (.) But you can pick him up, and you
4 can put him in the sink.=
5 D: =[°Oh I do. °]
6 S: [ And- ] and you can- (0.5) you can hold him do:wn.
7 D: °I do [that too°.
8 S: [.hh Charles on the other hand,
9 you can't do that with.=
10 D: =Oh.
The son takes a quick pause and then continues his story about the dog bath by comparing how he gives a bath to his dog compared to how his father would give a bath to his own dog Clinger. The son states in line two on page three that “giving Clinger a bath is a challenge I’m sure. But you can pick him up, and you can put him in the sink”. The word choice in this utterance is interesting for a couple of reasons. First the son is about to say how it is difficult to give Charles a bath compared to giving Clinger a bath. But just before he stops himself to say he’s sure it is hard to give Clinger a bath too. The son could be watching what he says to his father because he knows that his father is hurting during this time of the mother’s cancer. The son knew that coming out and saying it is harder to give Charles a bath then to give Clinger a bath might offend his father, and he does not want to cause any more grief during this already trying time. After the son lightens the intensity of his harsh words, he then says “but you can pick him up and put him in the sink” meaning that the father’s dog is much easier to give a bath because you can put him in the sink and he cannot do that with his own dog. This part of the dog story could be a symbolic representation for how the son and father are coping with the mother’s caner. These few utterances by the son could have the deeper meaning that he thinks he is having a harder time with the mother’s cancer than the father is. The son tells his father he realizes he is having a hard time too when he says “giving Clinger a bath is a challenge I’m sure” but then he goes on to say he is having the tougher time coping because he cannot just throw the dog in the sink, or throw his feelings for his mother to the side.
The father’s response to the son explaining Charles is harder to give a bath is also interesting. The father only responds “Oh I do” while the son is still in the mist of his story. This shows one of two things. Either the father saw that the son was trying to be considerate of his feelings and not flat out say Clinger is easier to give a bath then Charles and he says “Oh I do” to allow the son to know he was not offended by his comment. Or the father completely missed that the son was trying to be considerate of his feelings, and the father says “Oh I do” to simply agree with the son that he does in fact throw the dog in the sink to give him a bath. Connecting back to the mother’s/wife’s cancer the father could be saying “Oh I do” to agree with the son that he is having an easier time coping with his wife’s cancer, if he in fact picked up on the symbolism in the story.
The son continues his story in line six on page three by saying “and you can hold him down”. The son is referring once again to throwing the dog in the sink and then the father can easily hold him down. This could be symbolic for the son feeling the father can easily stop thinking about his hurt feelings for his wife’s cancer and he can hold them in. The son is hinting he cannot hold his feelings in as well as the father.
The father then responds with “I do that too”. This shows the father agrees that he can hold his dog down in the sink. Also the father could be agreeing that he can hold in his feelings about his wife’s cancer. The father says the word “too” referring to doing both putting the dog in the sink and holding him down or putting his feelings for his wife aside and holding them so no one can see the pain he is going through.
The son continues his story by interrupting the father while he is still saying “that too”. The son says in line eight on page three “Charles on the other hand, you can’t do that with”. The son is referring to putting the dog in the sink and holding him down. The son cannot put his dog Charles in the sink or hold him down. The son emphasizes Charles when he says Charles cannot be put in the sink. He emphasizes Charles to possibly represent himself, and let his father know that he (the son) is the one who cannot put Charles in the sink or hold him down. That is symbolic for the son not being able to put away his feelings and hide them.
The father responds in line ten on page three “Oh”. The reaction to what the son said seems almost surprised. The father is either surprised that the son cannot hold his dog down, or he is surprised that the son is unable to hold in his feelings about his mother’s cancer. The response is immediate right after the son says he cannot hold Charles down in the sink. This shows the father did not have to think long to come up with his response. “Oh” was the immediate reaction to what the son said.
The son must be surprised at the father’s response because there is a slight pause after the father says “Oh” in line ten on page three. After the slight pause the son then begins to laugh. The laugh seems to be nervous laughter because there was nothing funny said in the sentence before. Laughing after a pause seems to indicate awkwardness in this situation. The pause was awkward so the son uses laughter as a filler between speaking.