Breaking Home Ties, Norman Rockwell

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Few things evoke Americana like a Norman Rockwell picture, and this one in particular evokes the American dream that a person can do or be anything they want with poignant simplicity. Here, a young man sets off for college; something that his father doesn’t seem to have managed, going by his weathered appearance and world-weary slouch. The young man’s gaze is more toward the viewer, suggesting that his focus is firmly on the future. The older man looks away, as though his mind is more concerned with the past. He could, of course, be reflecting on the childhood of the son he is imminently saying goodbye to, but there’s something about his demeanour that suggests far more than that. A man, perhaps, who has made peace with the life he has led and has quiet hopes that his son will be able to vastly improve his lot, something that we have plenty of reason to believe in because this is America, albeit in a very non-Childish Gambino way.

There’s also the dog with its head in the young man’s lap. We can assume it’s feeling sad about saying goodbye to the young man, although it could just be hoping there’s a sandwich in that big suitcase.