Son of Mr. Green Jeans: Fatherhood from Allen to Zappa

[an analysis by Skylar Rush]

“Son of Mr. Green Jeans, A Meditation on Fathers” is an essay that—through various, and at times random segments concerning numerous different people or situations—elicits the importance of fathers and fatherhood in general. Moore portrays this importance in a very original way, using short little snippets about anything from bees and carp, to xenogenesis and his own experience as a father. These excerpts can prove humorous at times, and rather somber at others. Either way, they are highly effective in illustrating his main goal. I really enjoyed this essay and the way it (without having any plot whatsoever) effectively demonstrated how the presence of a father, or lack thereof, can alter the course of a person’s life. He even placed a short quiz right in the middle of the piece to expound his main idea and keep the reader’s eyes and thoughts engaged. Moore brilliantly utilized nonlinear structure to make the story come full circle, placing these little modules in alphabetical order and resolving all tension in the last two, “Y-Chromosomes” and “Zappa.”

KITTEN

Kitten, the youngest daughter on Father Knows Best, was played by Lauren Chapin.

LAUREN CHAPIN

Chapin’s father, we later learned, molested her, and her mother was a severe alcoholic. After Father Knows Best ended in 1960, Chapin’s life came apart. At age sixteen, she married an auto mechanic. At age eighteen, she became addicted to heroin and began working as a prostitute.

Moore’s use of nonlinear structure is shown here in his two sections of the piece concerning an actress that played the youngest daughter on a TV show in the fifties about a “perfect American family.” He uses these two modules two show that this TV family was something he wanted for his own life at the time. But outside the frame of the camera shot, Chaplin was a product of her own home environment. In a later snippet entitled “Religion,” Moore returns to Chaplin, describing how she finds Jesus in 1979 and turns her life around. This yet again expounds the importance of a fatherly presence in life through God who is viewed as the heavenly father that guides and protects us in our journey through life.

Dinty Moore uses this unusual fragmented arrangement to provide the reader with a different perspective on the father juxtaposed with his own story of fatherhood. Towards the middle of the piece, he describes a conversation with his wife in which she expresses her desire to have children. He tells her she is crazy, stating, “Convinced that she had just proposed the worst imaginable idea, I stood from my chair, looked straight ahead, and literally marched out of the room.” His attitude was undoubtedly stemming from his own personal experiences with his stuttering, drunk father—fearful that he would put someone else through the nightmare that he endured as a son. Later on in his section entitled “Vasectomies,” he says quite simply, “I had a vasectomy in 1994.” As the reader we understand the tension about Moore having children to be resolved quite abruptly, and to be honest, in a rather unsatisfying manner. But in the second to last passage, “Y-Chromosomes” he discusses that he did in fact have a daughter before his vasectomy and she has inherited only the “Moore family’s better traits” describing himself as lucky. Though lacking of any tangible and continuous thread, Dinty Moore creates a concrete, cathartic story on the importance of the father figure in one’s life. Did I mention that Tim Allen’s real last name is Dick?

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