Dad’s role, as depicted in midcentury America, was to be the breadwinner, play the occasional game of catch, and generally set a good example for his boys. And, oh yes, no one else can give the son “the talk,” unpleasant though it clearly is for both of them.
It wasn’t common to see fathers caring for babies in public; but in the privacy of the home, dads had to step up, if not always happily. In 2:00 Feeding (below), our subject appears tiny and trapped, the design emphasizing his isolation from the world outside.
In Early Morning Feeding (below), the pajamas suggest prison stripes.
Precise composition supports the narrative in these two amusing paintings of dads oppressed by duty. In Dad, the Fish are Biting (below), notice how contrasting wishes are suggested with shadow, one side dark, the other light.
And in After the Movie (below), our subject’s claustrophobia is heightened by those high walls and that eerie mob of little people.