Star Food (Analytical Essay)

The Makings of a Dreamer

You never know who you truly are until, you stop thinking about what other people say and think, and just be yourself. In the short story “Star Food” by Ethan Canin, the main character, Dade, is torn between his mother’s and father’s expectations and opinions of him. Dade is an eighteen-year-old boy. His father is a hard workingman who runs a grocery store called Star Food. Dade’s father is worried that Dade will not turn out to be like him in his work ethic and overall success. At the same time Dade’s mother encouraged him to keep being himself and that if he keeps doing the same things that eventually he will change into the person that he is supposed to be. Dade’s main problem throughout the story is that he is stuck not knowing how he truly wants the rest of his life to turn out.

Dade’s father is a realist. He is a determined worker who tries to find success in everything he does and wants to see those close to him achieve success. He doesn’t want Dade to end up poor and unhappy. Dade’s father illustrates this in a scene between Dade and him on their stores roof “He also made me look in the other direction whenever we were on the roof together, not west to the hills and their clouds of barbecue smoke, but east towards the part of town.” Dade’s father is trying to take Dade away from the horizon and the dreams he has and trying to get him to focus on the town where everyone is busy, bustling around always with a task at hand. When Dade’s father looks at the town he sees success and people who are working and grown up. Dade doesn’t really like the idea of going around and having to be constantly occupied; he likes to dream. Dade is not alike his dad in that he would rather sit on the roof and stare at clouds all day than be in the stock room doing the jobs his father has assigned him to do. Dade’s dad absolutely contradicts his wife’s ideals and philosophy.

Dade’s mother is a dreamer. She has the beliefs that something can be made from nothing and that your best ideas and work come to you when the time is truly right. Dade’s mother doesn’t directly go against her husband, but indirectly she does. She tries to encourage the “dreamer” type behavior he portrays. Her ideas are shown in the following narration; “My mother felt that men like Leonardo da Vinci and Thomas Edison had simply stared long enough at regular objects until they saw new things, and thus my looking into the sky might someday make me a great man.” This displays her creative thoughts about the way the mind works and the way she approaches Dade’s affection for star gazing on the roof. She thinks that maybe it’s his minds unique way of developing his thoughts and ideas. She believes that he should continue going about life in the manner that he currently does in order for him to achieve his own personal success and happiness.

Dade doesn’t really know what he wants for himself. He knows that he enjoys being surrounded by his thoughts as he gazes out along the horizon and into the sky from the rooftop. Dade just doesn’t know if a life full of hustling and bustling around a town and working hard every day is the life for him. Dade knows subconsciously that he wants to be a dreamer like his mind and just end up wherever life takes him, but he is afraid that if he strays from his fathers beliefs that he will become distant from his father. Dade and his father don’t have the best relationship, Dade’s father thinks he knows what the best for Dade is, the only problem is that he never asks Dade what he wants. Dade’s mother believes that she knows what is best for Dade; she encourages him to be himself. This is represented in the following quotation; “Dade, I don’t want you to let anyone keep you from what you ought to be doing.” I feel that this is a good sort of reinforcement for Dade, letting him know that even though his father doesn’t understand, he isn’t wasting all the time he spends on the roof. Dade’s torn between his father and mothers ideals, but he doesn’t really even take into consideration what he personally wants to do with the rest of his life.

Dade is an eighteen-year-old boy who is confused by his parents. He needs to take a step back from reality and figure out whether or not he wants the type of life his father lives or if he would rather create his own life with his own ideas. Dade is encouraged by his mom, but refuted by his father. Dade’s father is a realist and thinks he knows what is literally best for Dade. Dade’s mother is a dreamer who is more sympathetic with Dade in that she wants to let him be himself and turn into a happy person; instead of someone he feels like he is supposed to be. Dade wants to be a dreamer, but won’t let himself fully be one because he is afraid of losing his father’s support. Dade doesn’t realize that he can’t be himself unless he is truly doing what makes him happy.


"The Making of a Dreamer" Reflection

            For my analytical essay, I chose to write about "Star Food" by Ethan Canin. I am very proud of this piece because I received a good grade on it and because I think it reflects how I write. This piece analyzes the story well and it sums up the theme of the story. I learned from this that I could use more specific examples to make my argument stronger. In writing this, I learned how to more effectively analyze a story and how to make my writing very organized and fluid. I also learned how to better incorporate quotes and how to effectively compare and contrast. I compared and contrasted the mother and the father and their beliefs in life and how they affect their child. I knew I was finished with the paper when I reread it and was happy and proud of it.

            Compared to the rest of my portfolio, this piece is different in that it is an analytical essay and in that it is written in a more sophisticated manner. I can use what I learned from this paper in future analytical essays and in other things that require the mature style of writing like business reports. It was pretty new for me because I’ve only written a few analytical essays and none strictly on one short story using the themes and ideas from it. I previously had been assigned broader topics to express my personal beliefs, but in this case I had to compare the beliefs of the mother and father. I liked writing in this format because I am not very strong with using quotations and in this essay I think I did a pretty good job of that. I am very proud to submit this essay into my portfolio, because I think I did a very good job on it.


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