Today's society has been overwhelmed with many family problems. This statement holds true in Wallace Stegner's short story "The Blue-Winged Teal." John and Henry, the two main characters, are father and son with a problem bigger than the both of them combined. With the death of the wife and mother, their relationship, if there was one, was lost with little hope of getting it back. Stegner's short story exemplifies how the life and death of a loved one can come between then strengthen father and son.
As in many families, there is one person that is the glue of the family. In Stegner's story the mother is what held the family together. Even while the mother was living, John and Henry's relationship was never seemed strong. The father and son's relationship is described as, " . . . driftwood in a wide cold sea" (215) and " . . . the two weak illuminations diffusing in the shadowy poolroom, leaving the middle in almost absolute dark" (208). Their relationship was filled with holes and misunderstandings. Stegner seems to symbolize the father and son as a light on each end and the shadowy darkness being their relationship. There is an emptiness in their relationship due to the lack of communication.
As Stegner shows throughout the whole story the father and son are not capable of communicating as they need to. Stegner illustrates how the lack of communication leads to their misunderstandings. Henry, the son, does not understand how his father could return to his old ways after his mother saved him from the bar scene. Stegner writes, "He did not forgive his father the poolhall, or forget the way the old man had sprung back into the old pattern, as if his wife had been a jailer and he was now released" (204). Henry was unable to see that the pool hall was a place that his father was comfortable. The poolhall was all he knew and wanted. In Henry's case he goes hunting to ease his mind from things and as soon he returns his is right back to feeling lost.