“Pa Wars” by Patricia Grace
Pa Wars is a short story written by writer Patricia Grace, a writer of novels, short stories, and children’s books in the mid-nineteenth century. In Pa Wars, Petina tells her old school friend Raycharles that she’s looking for a father for her baby. The thread that runs through all the stories, though, is Grace’s huge sympathy for the underdog and the perspective of the outsider. The world she depicts is often a stark and unsentimental place, in which people struggle against aging, rejection, violence and betrayal. Throughout the story, Petina goes through a transition of thought of whether or not her old school friend Raycharles would be a good fit for her baby or not and the consequences and benefits of him being the father. She wants specific requirements for her ideal baby and how the father should be involved, saying she wants to have a child, but doesn’t want the burden of a relationship to tie her down, but is also present to visit the child from time to time. In the 20th century, this would be seen as taboo & would isolate the mother as unholy and would make her seem unreasonable since during this time, it was not socially acceptable to be a willing single mother. It made the mother seem irresponsible and deemed the child as a “bastard child” where a person has a child before marriage. However in the 21st century, it is more socially acceptable to be a single parent, not just for a mother, but for a father as well. This is because of the fact we now have a better adoption system where parents or a parent, can adopt a child from adoption centers. As well as the fact we are more socially independent than before as well as technologically have the option to artificially make children in a lab, whereas before, it was not possible to do so. This is how these centuries differ in the ideas of single parenting.
Evidence of Petinas struggle is shown on page 140 on the 35th Harvard Review stating, “So I made this plan. A kind of plan… well, I had these ideas but you can’t just… I mean I was married once, for three years but it didn’t work out and I never wanted to try that again. Had different relationships after that – but it’s not my thing. I’m no good at relationships, too bossy maybe, expect too much maybe, no tolerance or something. Having a man around is just not me. I’m all right on my own – working my section or renovating my house – because… because… everything’s got to be done my way. And I like to do stuff – scuba diving, sailing when I get a chance, tramping in the hills. A man thinks you’ll give all that up for him. He takes up all your time. But in the mean, time I’m missing out on a baby. I could give time to a baby. I could commit to a kid, reckon I’ve got something to offer children. It’s all I think about these days.” Seeing this text in the passage goes back to the idea that Petina wants to be a single parent, not because of a divorce or a marriage, but because she wants to be able to do the things she desires and wants to do & she feels being married, would tie her down and prevent her from really having her own freedom. However, she still wants a child to be able to dedicate her time to, because of the fact she feels like she has something to offer, an opportunity to raise a child and have the experiences she’ll have along with her.
How it works
This idea is a 21st-century idea and seems out of place back in the 20th century. That is why she seems hesitant to start on her plan, because of the fact she’ll be shamed in her community and be set as an example of bad choices, when in reality, she just wants to have a sense of freedom and dedicate her time more onto a child & not just a father. Evidence of this hesitant is shown in page 143 in the Harvard Review where Petina states, “But now . . .well, now that it has come to the crunch I realize I can’t just rush up to a man, even if he is a mate, and say to him, ‘How about us producing a kid together and you won’t even have to be around… just keep in contact, you know, for the kid’s sake?’ I mean it wasn’t as if I was going to suggest jumping into bed with a mate for what might seem like a whim, or for any other reason. You can do that with strangers maybe, but… not mates, not… not… I was really thinking the ‘known donor’ option. Well, I was kind of waiting for a sign… to make it all right, to tell me it was OK to go ahead to… you know, ask.” She feels as if there has to be a perfect time in order to be able to do this because of the consequences that could affect her later on. In the 21st century, this would be widely accepted and even socially acceptable and encouraged because of the benefits that would occur to being able to raise a child as a single parent, such as having more freedom, which is what Petina wants. In the end, she is able to find a donor or a possible candidate for her troubles and it would be the “sign” she was looking for all along. To have the opportunity to start a new chapter in her life, with a baby.