The Golden Age

by

Joan London

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The Golden Age: 5. Frank’s Vocation Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Frank has always suspected he had a vocation, although he inherited neither Ida’s musical ability nor Meyer’s handiness. Now he knows he’s a poet, and this conviction makes him feel like an adult, able to “overcome any hardship.” However, as with his childhood in Hungary, he doesn’t discuss it with anyone.
Unlike his mother, who abnegates her vocation in times of trouble, Frank embraces his in order to survive. It’s interesting that he likens his vocation to his early childhood; one is a positive force, while the other was presumably a very traumatic experience.
Themes
Survival Theme Icon
Vocation Theme Icon
Between dinner and lights out, the children have free time. Most of the boys read or play board games, but Frank always goes outside. It’s a habit he inhereted from his parents, who always share an aperitif on the porch before dinner. Usually they stand quietly and look at the front yard, just as they stood at the rail of the ship when they arrived at Australia. Frank describes their posture not as defeated, but not hopeful either.
Even though he wants to be grown up and independent, Frank still takes his behavioral cues from his parents. This shows how much he respects and cherishes his memories of them, even if those memories evoke painful feelings (like facing an uncertain future in Australia).
Themes
Parenthood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Frank wheels outside again, thinking over the poem that came to him during the afternoon. He writes it down in a prescription pad he swiped from the IDB in Perth. As he writes down the words, he realizes that the poem could be about Elsa or Sullivan, who taught him about poetry at IDB. All of Frank’s poems are in some way about Sullivan. Sullivan always told Frank that great poets must understand death, and that they have “an early advantage” in this respect.
This is Sullivan’s first appearance. Since Frank met this friend at IDB, his reflection that all of his poems are about Sullivan means that they are all influenced by polio. This shows how much the disease and its challenges have catalyzed Frank’s vocation and his mature consciousness.
Themes
Survival Theme Icon
Vocation Theme Icon