The Family Business by Benjamin Law
In The Family Business by Benjamin Law we have the theme of connection, identity, loss, success, respect and isolation. Taken from his The Family Law collection the story is narrated in the first person by Law himself and after reading the story it becomes clear to the reader that Law may be exploring the theme of connection and the lack of connection. Law and his siblings have to work in his father’s restaurants. It is part of their growing up. Law himself does not like it but knows that he is obliged to do so. Interestingly Law never suggests an alternative to working in the restaurants. The lack of connection can be found when Law’s parents separate. It is as though Mrs Law does not share the same dreams as her husband. Their marriage and hopes have come to an end. Whereas Law and his siblings are excited about the building of a new home.
There is also no doubting that despite some failures in business. Law’s father in general remains successful. A success that is noticeable by the fact that the pocket money for Law and his siblings increases. There is however one down side in the story which might be important. The fact that Law rarely sees his father at home because he goes to bed when Law is getting up for school. There is a sense that Law in some way is isolated from his father and does not like this. This may very well be the price that Law has to pay in order for his father to be a success. What is also interesting about the story is that as readers we never get to find out how Law’s sisters might feel about the position they find themselves in.
There may be some symbolism in the story which might be important. The air in the family home is not good. It is possible that Law is using the condition of the air as a metaphor for the condition of Law’s parent’s marriage. There is no oxygen left in the marriage and both parties may feel as though there is nothing to save the marriage. With Law’s father spending so much time working. It may also be a case that the family business defines who Law is. He has no other interests apart from school. There is no mention of sporting activities or achievements nor is there any mention of Law having any friends.
The end of the story is interesting as Law appears to be expressing appreciation for his father. Imagining himself, like the tours of star’s homes in Hollywood, bringing people to the places his father had or has businesses. Even though Law did not necessarily like working in the family businesses he still nonetheless has great respect for his father. If anything and despite the breakdown of his parent’s marriage. Law remains proud of his father for all the hard-work he has put in. It may not necessarily have defined him as a person but it probably helped to mould him into some sort of work ethic. Learning so young about the family businesses.