In Italo Calvino’s Italian short story “The Happy Man's Shirt,” the king is an effective father to his son by showing that he cares and pays attention to the changes in his son, “A king had an only son that he thought the world of, but his son was unhappy. He would spend days on end at his window staring into space” (1). Being that the king only has one son, he wanted what was best for him like any father. Most fathers struggle with connecting to their children. According to an essay “Becoming A More Effective Father" written by Isarel Helfand "fatherhood brings with it both conflict and satisfaction. Many men enjoy the time they spend with their children and feel effective as a parent. But fatherhood often comes with much struggle." Compared to the king in the story, he struggled with finding out what made his son so unhappy, so he called in help for advice about his son. Also, it shows conflict because the king thought the prince was in love, “if there’s a particular girl you fancy, tell me, and I’ll arrange for you to marry her, no matter whether she’s the daughter of the most powerful king on earth of the poorest peasant girl alive”(1). The king realized the boy is just unhappy. Men active with their children live, protect, and go through hell to make them happy, and that is exactly what the king did. He found the issue to the prince’s problem which was his unhappiness, and then he found a solution. It was not the best solution because he was taking from someone else, but it was caring and thoughtful. The king had to receive the shirt of someone who was happy, someone who lived a good life. As well as caring, being protective and going to the end of the world, men want what is best for their children.
The king searched high and low to find an awesome and happy person to exchange shirts, so his son would be happy. The first happy person the king met was a priest. The priest was happy and willing to work for the king, but that did nothing to make the king want his shirt, “I’m seeking a man who was happy just as he is, not one who’s trying to better his lot” (3). He wanted someone who was completely happy. Secondly, the king sent his ambassadors out to find someone else for his son who did not fit either. It was a neighboring king that the ambassadors found; his only problem was what he thought would happen after he died. “But at the same time I worry because I’ll have to die one day and leave it all. I cannot sleep at night for worrying about that!” (4). Finally, the king found himself a happy man. It was a young man singing in the vineyard. The king asked the young man would he like to be taken to the capital to be friends with the king. The young man respectfully told the king no because he could not consider changing places and leaving the pope. The king was excited when he heard the young man’s answers to his questions; he was someone who was happy where they were and did not want to leave. The king found his happy shirt and that shows how a father will go to the end of the world and wants the best for their child. The king could have taken anybody’s shirt if he were happy, but he wanted the right one, the perfect one. He is showing that he is an effective father and wants nothing but his son to be happy.
By Bryce Caulton
A cool, relaxed guy who loves sports and animals.