Web teaser: Working with a song

The following verses are excerpts from "Cat's in the Cradle" by Harry Chapin, a song about a father and his son.


My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talkin' 'fore I knew it, and as he grew
He'd say "I'm gonna be like you, Dad
You know I'm gonna be like you"
( … )


My son turned ten just the other day
He said, "Thanks for the ball, Dad, come on let's play
can you teach me to throw", I said "Not today
I got a lot to do", he said, "That's ok"
And he walked away but his smile never dimmed
And said, "I'm gonna be like him, yeah
You know I'm gonna be like him"
( … )

Well, he came from college just the other day
So much like a man I just had to say
"Son, I'm proud of you, can you sit for a while"
He shook his head and said with a smile
"What I'd really like, Dad, is to borrow the car keys
See you later, can I have them please"
( … ) 
I've long since retired, my son's moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, "I'd like to see you if you don't mind"
He said, "I'd love to, Dad, if I can find the time
You see my new job's a hassle and the kids have the flu
But it's sure nice talking to you, Dad
It's been sure nice talking to you"

And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me
He'd grown up just like me
My boy was just like me

father and son QUESTIONS

  1. Who is the speaker in this song?
  2. How does he spend the childhood years of his son?
  3. In your opinion, what values do you think govern his decisions?
  4. How does the boy feel about his father?
  5. As he grows older, how does the son treat his father?
  6. The father has a revelation towards the end of the song. Explain this revelation.
  7. In your opinion, does the father deserve this treatment from his son? Do you think the son treats his father like this on purpose?
  8. How do father and son communicate throughout the song?
  9. In what way is this song ironic? (See Toolbox on p. 284 to learn about irony and sarcasm.)