Elephant

by

Raymond Carver

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The Narrator’s Son Character Analysis

The narrator’s son is also on the narrator’s “payroll.” He goes to college in New Hampshire, for which he’s accrued a large amount of debt. He believes that America is a materialist society where people can’t hold a conversation unless money is somehow involved. Instead, he wants to live in Germany, where he spent a semester studying abroad, so he asks the narrator to pay for the plane ticket. Like the narrator’s daughter, the narrator’s son attempts to achieve upward economic mobility: he’s the first person in his family to go to college. But things don’t work out for him. His education results in so much debt that he becomes disillusioned with America, and the narrator resents his son for going to school at all.

The Narrator’s Son Quotes in Elephant

The Elephant quotes below are all either spoken by The Narrator’s Son or refer to The Narrator’s Son. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Dependency Theme Icon
).
Elephant Quotes

But he was the first kid in the family, on either side of the family, to even want to go to college, so everybody thought it was a good idea. I thought so, too, at first. How’d I know it was going to wind up costing me an arm and a leg? He borrowed left and right from the banks to keep himself going. […]But after he'd borrowed everything he could, everything in sight, including enough to finance a junior year in Germany, I had to begin sending him money, and a lot of it. When, finally, I said I couldn’t send any more, he wrote back and said if that was the case, if that was really the way I felt, he was going to deal drugs or else rob a bank—whatever he had to do to get money to live on.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), The Narrator’s Son
Page Number: 391
Explanation and Analysis:

This was a materialist society, and he simply couldn’t take it anymore. People over here, in the U.S., couldn’t hold a conversation unless money figured in it some way, and he was sick of it.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), The Narrator’s Son
Page Number: 396
Explanation and Analysis:
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Elephant PDF

The Narrator’s Son Character Timeline in Elephant

The timeline below shows where the character The Narrator’s Son appears in Elephant. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Elephant
Dependency Theme Icon
Money and Hardship Theme Icon
Guilt and Responsibility  Theme Icon
The narrator’s son needs money, too. He’s in college in New Hampshire—the first in their family to go... (full context)
Money and Hardship Theme Icon
Guilt and Responsibility  Theme Icon
The narrator’s son responds melodramatically, threatening to end his life to not be a burden on his father.... (full context)
Dependency Theme Icon
The narrator’s son asks the narrator to pay for a plane ticket to Germany— it’s essential that he... (full context)
Dependency Theme Icon
Guilt and Responsibility  Theme Icon
...the dream shifts, and the narrator relives a time when he drunkenly kicked in his son’s car window, then threatened to kill him. He wakes with his heart racing and reflects... (full context)
Dependency Theme Icon
Drudgery vs. Escape  Theme Icon
...day. As he walks, he thinks once again about his family. He hopes that his son made it to Germany and found happiness there. He hopes that his daughter is doing... (full context)