In Sarah Vowell’s “Shooting Dad,” the author narrates a sympathetic story between herself and her father. Vowell reminisces to the memories of her childhood and the hardships of growing up with an eccentric arms-bearing father. Her recollections compare her own and her father’s differences in views of politics as well as each other’s interests. The author’s metaphors within the story elaborate incidents in which Vowell’s father embarrassed her with his obsession for firearms. As Vowell is motivated later in life to become a better daughter, she discovers that to some people she’s just as weird as her father is to her. Finally, the author realizes how much she and her father are alike and is motivated with a sense of pride which comes from her father’s cannon.
First, Vowell compares both herself and her father’s political beliefs during her teenage years. She portrays her father as a Republican who favors the second amendment and the right to bear arms; Vowell, who’s a Democrat, is in favor of the second amendment and freedom of speech. The author describes the home she grew up in to be “Portioned off into territories. While the kitchen and the living room were well within the “DMZ,” the respective work spaces governed by my father and me were jealously guarded totalitarian states in which each of us declared ourselves dictator.”(BR 154-155) Also, Vowell refers back to major elections or political conventions which she and her father disagreed with the outcomes. She and her father never agreed on many things such as the 1984 National Democratic Convention when Vowell states, “I was so excited, I taped the front page of the newspaper with her picture on it to the refrigerator door. But there was some sort of mysterious gravity surge in the kitchen. Somehow, that picture ended up in the trash all the way across the room.”(BR 154)
Vowell then narrates memories of her younger childhood involving firearms. The author remembers her parents having to clean firearms off of their kitchen table just to make room for her cereal in the morning. She describes happy feelings when her parents moved in to a larger town, after her dad ran out onto the front porch scaring away the neighbor kids and shooting at crows with his BB gun; her mother told him he could not behave in such a way in the new town. Having always been afraid of her father being a gunsmith, her sister, Amy, was as much of a gun fanatic as their dad. She reminisces to her first memory of their father allowing them to shoot a fire arm, the author describes the experience with the metaphor “The sound of it was as big as God. It kicked little me back to the ground like a bully, like a foe. It hurt.” (BR 155) This moment becomes a point in Vowell’s life that she’s decided to never touch a firearm again.
Finally, Vowell is inspired by her desire to become a better daughter, she decides to join her father in firing his new work of art, a cannon. This cannon was special for her dad, rich with a family history, and rebuilt by his own hands. The author portrays a sense of pride and joy with the effect of the cannon going off. Vowell states that “The sound, which warrants Ben Day dot words along the lines of Ker-pow! There’s so much Fourth of July smoke everywhere I feel compelled to sing the National Anthem.” (BR 157) Also, to justify her feelings for the cannon by considering it to be completely ceremonial object she uses the metaphor, “Try to rob a convenience store with this 110-pound Saturday night special, you’d be dragging it in the door Sunday afternoon.” (BR 158) When some hikers come across the scene of the firing, Vowell observes as they are more interested in her “shot gun” microphone versus the effect of her father’s cannon. The author is motivated to realize that “She is not just her father’s adversary anymore but his accomplice,” both of who are different in their own unique and weird way. (BR 158)
After discovering a special bond of honor between her father and herself, Vowell vows to follow out her father’s “Gesamtkunstwerk,” (BR 158), his final work of art; requiring that his ashes be blown out of the cannon into the sphinx mountain at sunrise on first day of hunting season. Vowell concludes her story with the idiom, “When I blow what used to be my dad into the earth, I want it to hurt.” (BR 159) Even though the sentence is constructed with words or effects that portray a physical pain; he author’s intentions of the said idiom is to convey the change of respect towards her father from when she was young to when she became older.