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The Artificial Heart

I draped the towel over his bony shoulders and pulled the ends together across his chest, where I could feel his artificial heart thumping like a piston, impossible to stop, impossible to break.

Bergman’s “The Artificial Heart” reveals the emotions associated with caring for your parents after their minds have failed to keep up with the ever-changing world.  The narrator grew up with a  father who could survive on the basics of life, and do so while providing for his family and protecting the endangered environment.  With a father like this, I can only imagine that it makes the child of this man very independent, and even almost reliant on the teachings of their father, and completely non-relient on the help of everyday, wasteful peers.  As the child learned the skills from the well-rounded father, they began to follow in his footsteps and almost dedicated their life to the sustainable way of living.  This narrator however, differs from her father. She is not a risk taker, she takes care of life with delicate fingers, always being sure to get by. When Link is brought into the picture, it confuses the reader to know that this independent, caring daughter had a lifetime partner who deals with all of the obvious baggage from her father-daughter relationship that is beginning to fail.  Link is still considered the alpha male in the household, and even the narrator’s father loves him like his own son, distancing the narrator from her father.  When he wishes to date again, the narrator turns into a parent, and beings to worry for her father’s emotional state as he tries to connect with women on the premises of his senile mind.  You feel a sense of nervousness or anxiousness whenever he is dating Susan, because you turn into the all-loving child who would never wish to see her aging, morally bruised father be hurt due to his age and Susan’s age.  Susan sees Link as the male she wishes were sitting across from her at the dinner table at the Senior Center,  which clearly hurts the grandfather who still has enough confidence to take an elderly woman on a date.  He wishes to do something that he is good at, to impress his lovely girlfriend, but ends up ruining the relationship due to his conditioned ways that were most likely taught to him as a young child, which reflects on the actions of his protective daughter.  Even as she walks from the date, furious with her father’s lack of manners, she displays a love for her father which is unmistakable. This goes along with the title “the Artificial Heart” because as the manmade heart beats inside his chest, the daughter is reminded of the man she learned her lifestyle from, who now forgets those days and is almost a new person, one the daughter struggles to understand.  The artificial ways of the world reflect why he wrote his novel on the dying environment, but the way he feels about this topic is far from artificial- it is very real.  This story perfectly reflects on the feelings associated with a daughter turning into a parental figure for her father, and how this relationship changes over the years, but one thing does not: the love the two share for one another, no matter how much the two can change.

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