The text represents an extract from the novel “Wheels” by Arthur Haily. The extract belongs to the belles-lettres style. The text looks at the relationship between Matt Zaleski and his daughter Barbara. The main theme of the extract is the generation gap. The author managed to reveal the inner corners of the characters’ soul through the description of their attitude to each other, their behaviour and outlook. At the very beginning Haily makes use of the epithet “the lonely weekend”. But in fact the word “lonely” refers to Matt because the weekend is the time to enjoy being with the family but his daughter “is away somewhere”. We can jump into conclusion that Matt and Barbara don’t mix a lot, as daughters and fathers usually do. Matt is just in the dark where the girl is (“somewhere”). As the author puts it the man “has to fend for himself”. The word “has” should be stressed – Matt doesn’t actually want to do it but there is no way out. To his mind life is too hard on him and he is a victim. The man looks back on the good old days when his wife was alive and they led a happy life. Matt is sulky and irritated because his daughter doesn’t care for him.
And it’s behind him to understand that Barbara isn’t a little girl any longer. Matt thinks that she is all about her own life and work is regarded by her “as equally important with her father’s.” Matt wants to be taken under his daughter’s wing. In the text we come across with the man’s take on women’s business. He wants his daughter, as any ordinary woman, to keep house but Barbara can’t do it because she’s very busy. The girl is sure that they need a housekeeper but Matt doesn’t want to meet her halfway. On the one hand I came to realize that Matt is a selfish person. It is he who doesn’t put his daughter interests first. But on the other hand Barbara is a fine one. She is stubborn and inflexible. She always stands her ground. The girl should be more tolerate towards her father but she doesn’t want to understand him and their heated argument about a housekeeper is a bright example of it. Matt doesn’t want to meet his daughter’s halfway. We come across with a clash of two different outlooks. Matt is too out-of-date and he has a very critical eye.
To show his attitude to the young the author makes use of the words with negative colouring: “students-know-it-alls, choked up with book learning…”, “the whole bunch of them.” Matt doesn’t want to understand the young. He considers them not to appreciate the values of the world, they are impatient and the man is irritated because he feels that there is nothing to be done about it. Matt stands for slow progress (“demanding the millennium on the spot and not content to progress slowly” (about the youth)). He “blamed the people his daughter associated with.” Barbara tries to talk her father into giving a second thought to the situation. She’d better realize that Matt –“like many of his age group – was the prisoner of his long-held views” and all these values were inculcated in him.
And there is a saying: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Arthur Haily managed to illustrate a striking example of the generation gap. Due to all the information given in the extract we have a chance to assess the characters’ behaviour and views. The text is very instructive. The message of it is that we aren’t able to choose our relatives – there are parents and parents, there are children and children. One should be tolerant, understanding and affectionate towards nearest and dearest because nothing can be more important in our life!