In families, there is usually an achiever. Traditionally, this was the father figure. Traditional roles that fathers in the nuclear family play are either the achiever or hero and focus on protecting the family and providing for the home. This is according to a web article posted by the American Academy of Pediatricians. In “Deep Eddy,” the father has to come to terms with his guilt, shame and anger over the mother’s death. Lumpkin creates a tender story of the way that the son helps him do that. In “Deep Eddy,” a grieving father is assisted by his son using bass fishing.
The story has all the elements of the psychological effects of grief over the unexpected loss of a spouse. According to recent research on coping with grief, it is normal for a person to feel anger, guilt and anxiety after the unexpected death of a loved one. Still, the father is portrayed as a hero for the son. He does everything he can to make sure the sun gets out of Blacks Crossroads. So now the son has to become the hero and help his dad win the bass trophy.
His father had protected him once. This is one of the ways that the character is a hero in the story. He only went back to bass fishing after swearing an oath, because he wanted to keep his son involved in a positive activity and away from Smoke. The son had wanted “to ride around, get high, and listen to music,” but his father convinced him to start fishing with him, and then he did that instead of fishing with Smoke. The story shows an example of constructive actions that a parent might take to protect their child from drug abuse. Heroes protect those whom they love.
The father worked all of his life at a plant making tires until the EPA closed down the plant. He ends up working at a Honda plant. It’s the last generation. This is what a hero does. Unable to accept the death of his wife or properly grieve, he continues to believe that he is cursed, but never leaves his job and continues to provide for his son. This is not the heroism of capes and crime-solving, but the quiet heroism of everyday parenthood.
So after this the son gets an advanced degree in anthropology and moves away from his father, but they still fish. It comes to the time in the story when the tension rises and the son falls overboard and almost drowns. It is then that they decide to fish in Deep Eddy where the mother’s car was found after her disappearance. The father then sees the bass on his line and has a revelation. He can fish, his son is alive, and he is alive. They have fun fishing. The story ends with the father meeting a woman, Judith, a character that is not developed fully in the story, and the son having children of his own.
The story is simple, but an important recognition of familial roles, responsibilities and humanity. In order to endure the sufferings of this life, people, children in particular need to know that they are loved and honored by their parents. If they lose one parent, grief is complicated and complex, so it is the simple acts of heroism like going fishing with your child or parent that can help them cope and come to experience healing.