short story: Heavy Metal Housekeeping

Essay by km0693College, UndergraduateA, December 2012

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Sacrifice: Necessary Skill for Being a Good Parent When discussing the topic of raising children, it's unlikely to hear it described as being an easy task. Nadia Bozak's short story "Heavy Metal Housekeeping" encourages the idea that good parenting is defined by the ability to sacrifice one's own freedom and desires with the intention of providing the child with better opportunities in life. This belief is reinforced by the symbolism of dirty and clean clothes, the self-defense mechanism behind heavy metal appearances, and the mother forfeiting her life's goals for her son.

A quick glance at Bozak's story gives us a motif of laundry (Bozak 100-107); the chore or responsibility involving the cleaning of clothes when they become dirty. The task of laundry itself is a responsibility given to the mother of this story, so she is sacrificing her own time in order to complete the chore. However, the task from her point of view isn't simply an action being done, but the process of turning something dirty into something clean.

"Dirt" can be replaced by "soil" or "earth". In the story, the mother refers to "earth" as being a confining element: "all dirt and drudgery and day-in/day-out and getting good at carrying out demands" (Bozak 105). We can then argue that dirty clothes symbolize being trapped, whereas clean clothes imply the absence of "earth" and, therefore, are symbols of freedom. If we return to the literal sense of laundry, the mother performs this responsibility of cleaning her son's heavy metal t-shirts and sacrifices her time in order to symbolically provide her son with fewer limitations.

Another reoccurring idea in Bozak's "Heavy Metal Housekeeping" is how people with tough-looking exteriors (heavy metal style in this case) are "fragile" underneath the surface and want to be treated delicately (104). The...