Seth Bohlander English 1102 Mrs. Hammonds 10 October 2010 Bruton’s Change “ Welding with Children” is a short story that illustrates thematic ideas from beginning to end. Throughout the story, Bruton, an older redheaded man with papery skin, shows that his parenting skills have suffered, and he is embarrassed with how he raised his four daughters in the past. With his daughters now grown, the reputation of their upbringing still haunts him. Examples like Bruton’s car being referred to as the “ bastardmobile” show just what type of reputation he is dealing with.
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Though as the story progresses, Bruton shows change. Through a series of epiphanies or awakenings, he realizes he can’t undo his previous mistakes, but believes he can redeem himself by parenting his grandchildren the correct way, all while welding with children. From the beginning of the story, Bruton shows his carefree attitude on things that are considered important to most people. After dropping out of college in his first semester, he states, “ I may have flunked out that semester, but I got mymoney’s worth learning about people that don’t have hearts no bigger than birds shot” (Gautreaux 200).
His attitude shows he has no drive to fix problems. In an interesting way, he sees some sort of accomplishment from hisfailure. This attitude is similar to how he raised his children. He knows he messed up, but feels he can do nothing but live with his mistakes. Bruton continues to show his stagnant attitude throughout the story until experiencing his first epiphany. While driving home, one of the grandchildren Freddy says something that indicates to be a curse word. When asked where he heard words like those, Freddy says he heard it on a late night comedy program.
Bruton is enlightened, and thinks back on his four daughters. “ None of them has any religion to speak of. The girls grew up watching cable and videos every night, and that’s where they got their view of the world, and that’s why four dirty blondes . . . thought they lived in a Hollywood soap opera (Gautreaux 202). This is suggests that television is to blame. Seeing that history does repeat itself, Bruton takes advantage of the situation and sits the kids down and begins teaching them about the bible.
The sense of urgency shows this to be an important aspect of parenting that he forgot. Before being enlightened, Bruton believed that the reason his four daughters turned out the way they did, was solely his wife’s fault. Since she was gone all the time, he found it easy to point the finger to her. He never felt accountable, but after the first awakening, Bruton takes fullresponsibilityfor his actions and signs of change. With the weight of responsibility on his back, Bruton turns to the only people he knows who can help him. The Tree of Knowledge”, a group of men whom have already insulted Bruton, give him three helpful suggestions. They tell him to clean his yard, join the Methodist church, and keep the children with him as much as possible. At first, the suggestions appear to be patronizing, but somehow Bruton sees a positive message through their comments. Turing to these men for advice shows that Bruton is sympathetic. After the vicious comments that were made to Bruton’s daughters, he shows signs offorgivenessand remorse to go to these men for help.
In conclusion, Bruton sends a message that is simple and bold. Embracing opportunity enables the probability of change. “ Time for a change” (Gautreaux 210). Being assigned the duty to babysit his grandchildren appeared to be a simple task, but seeing the opportunity to fix a problem that has been passed down through two generations makes Bruton a heroic and dynamic character. Work Cited Gautreaux, Tim. “ Welding with Children. ” Perrines’s Literature: Structure, Sound, and Sense, 10th ed. Thomas R. Arp and Greg Johnson. Boston: Wadsworth, 2009. 198-211. Print.