As a writing technique, fiction has the power to teach and open the audience’s mind to new perspectives of life. Avid readers of fiction stories do not visit book stores because they believe novels and stories are a source of entertainment and a form of escapism but because they help people learn ways of improving their lives. Readers try to relate the contents of a book with past and current experiences, which makes it an important resource in improving their lives. William Faulkner was a famous American writer valued in the literature industry because he mastered the art of integrating fictional elements into normal real-life occurrences. He viewed fictional writing as an instrument to demonstrate issues that trouble the spirit and those that triggered conflict within the human heart. Similarly, there are authors who shared the same approaches to fiction as Faulkner. In his short story, Uncle Rock, Dagoberto Gilb narrates a young boy’s conflict with his heart. He is torn between tolerating the men in his mother’s life or not, and this fits into Faulkner’s definition of a good and lasting fiction.
Conflict with Self
The main conflict in Uncle Rock is between human and self, demonstrated in the young boy Erick’s interaction with his mother’s male friends. Erick’s attitude towards his mother’s boyfriends is the same, he hates all of them and this has led to his silent behavior throughout the story. The narrator states, “he never said anything when the men were around, and not because of his English, even if that was the excuse his mother gave for his silence” (Gilb 283). Even though some of the men expressed kindness through gifts, Erick was reluctant when it came to interacting with them. However, when her mother meets a new man by the name Roque, Erick experiences mixed feelings toward him. He becomes unsure of whether he wishes the same for Roque who has been extremely kind to Erick and his mother. When Roque takes them to a baseball game, he is given a note by one of the players bearing a name, phone number and hotel room to pass to his mother. Nonetheless, Erick throws away the paper because he did not want anyone replacing the joy Roque was giving to them.
Conflict with Society
Apart from the conflict that exists between Erick and himself, he also experiences external conflict between him and society. In Uncle Rock, women have been painted as objects and Erick is completely against such an idea. Contrarily, Erick’s mother has been forced to accept the cultural norm and that is why she was open to meeting rich men as frequent as possible to give her a new identity in a foreign land. However, Erick is upset with the way society has normalized the habit of rich men using money to lure women. The writer states, “he didn’t talk to any of the men and he didn’t talk much to his mom, either” (Gilb 284). Erick fails to understand why his mother would see rich men as the only source of happiness and yet there are other means of earning income. Erick’s response to this societal problem is silence because he is too young to speak about his thoughts and neither is he in a position to make a difference.
Theme of Powerlessness
The main theme Gilb is trying to pass in Uncle Rock is that of powerlessness, evident in both Erick’s and his mother’s lives. The two are immigrants from Mexico and the mother is forced to look for means to survive in the United States. Erick and her mother represent the universal truth that women and children have no voices before men. Erick’s mother resorts to dating different men in pursuit for wealthy ones who are able to cover her family’s bills. She is not happy with her current state but maintains her behavior nonetheless because she is both hopeless and helpless. The narrator states, “when she got upset about days like that, she told Erick that she wished they could just go back home” (Gilb 290). Similarly, Erick experiences powerlessness which is practically demonstrated in his silence throughout the narration. The fact that his mother goes out with different men means she spends very little time with him. However, Erick cannot do anything because he has to keep her mother’s secrets and he is also too young to confront her mother and the men she is dating. Both characters long for happiness they are unable to achieve until they meet Roque who frees them from powerlessness.
Of all the approaches authors use in writing, fiction is the most enjoyed by the majority of readers and accepted worldwide. This is because even though this type of literature involves imaginary events, it also contains creative elements that represent real-life experiences. William Faulkner discourages writers from concentrating much on fabricating stories that they forget about issues affecting society, particularly those concerned with internal and external human conflicts. Uncle Rock is an example of a fiction that focuses on illuminating human conflict with the heart. Dagoberto Gilb demonstrates the theme of powerlessness in the lives of Erick and his mother who struggle to find happiness as immigrants in the U.S. Erick’s mother sees dating rich men as the only solution to surviving in a new country and the son ends up suffering because of that. The future of fiction narratives is grounded on common issues facing society because readers are more intrigued with stories they can relate with.
Gilb, Dagoberto. “Uncle Rock.” Uncle Rock by Dagoberto Gilb and Commentary. 2012, pp. 285-293, Web.