The Old Man & The Sunbeam

I really enjoyed reading Chapters 1 & 2 of Carlin’s, Last Words, memoir. I thought that the first paragraph was quite interesting and very unexpected. As I continued to read though, I realized that even though his choice of words are not ones that I would particularly use, it doesn’t mean that they are wrong. When I learned that he was a comedian, I had a much better understanding of why he spoke the way he did. In comedy, his grammar and language are obviously acceptable. I really enjoyed how outspoken and honest he was in the first two chapters. I also enjoyed learning about his mother, Mary. I was so intrigued by her lifestyle and how she soaked up the culture around her during the twenties. When George says, “I think my early aversion to reading can be traced to the importance she placed on it and to her use of literary references in the middle of an argument,” it is evident that his mother’s language and discourse heavily influenced his own. I love how he describes that she passed on to him “the love of language, an immense respect for words and their power.” While his mother’s discourse left such an impact on his life, he goes on to explain his father’s influence as well. As he is describing Patrick Carlin Sr.’s language and beliefs, he says that if his father passed it on genetically, it was the greatest gift he could have given. It is obvious that George’s primary discourse and use of language was heavily influenced by both of his parents. In chapter three titled, “Holy Mary Mother of George,” I was under the impression that George may have been almost forced to live through his mother’s own discourses in order to reach her standards. She was a very strong-willed woman as I learned through the reading who was determined to impress those around her and was very concerned about her appearance. Mary always seemed to focus on judgement…judgement of yourself and judgement of others. George proceeds to say that his mother is “hidden in every cranny of his workroom, requiring him to do things,” and he constantly has to take her out so that he can focus on himself and decide on what he truly wants and desires. This proves that as we grow up, our parents impact our language and discourses in a mighty way, but as George said, “he had to figuratively throw his mother out of his life as a teen, the good and the bad,” in order to find who we truly are and not let the standards of others define our own lives.

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