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Analasis of Open by Andre Agassi

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Open by Andre Agassi

How can you be sick about not being home? Home is where the dragon lives. Home is the place where, when you go there, you have to play tennis...” (Lines 22-25). These are the words the retired tennis star Andre Agassi uses to describe his upbringing. In his autobiography, Open, he describes a home filled with tension and suppressed feelings. A life with an uncaring father, a passive mother and an inevitable obligation to play a sport he did not care for. His story shows how the lack of love and attention can have consequences over generations and demonstrates just how important it is for a child to have a proper role model in their life.

The uneasy atmosphere that characterizes Andre Agassi’s childhood home and the insensible behavior of his father can be routed back into his father’s own upbringing. Agassi’s father and grandmother have a very strained relationship and when his father memorizes his childhood, it is with a regretful set of mind.  “He says she nagged him when he was a boy and often beat him.“ (Lines 11-13). It is likely that this is the explanation behind the rough treatment of his son. In addition, the presence of the grandmother seems to call forth an even more aggressive behavior from the father. “she causes more tension in a house that doesn’t need one bit more.” (Lines 29-30).  She adds to the flame of family drama. Furthermore, Agassi’s grandmother also has an awkward relationship to his mother, which is caused by an unspoken competition. As Agassi expressed in the statement “she engages in a weird competition with my mother. My mother tells me that when I was a baby, she walked into the kitchen and found Grandma breastfeeding me. Things have been awkward between the two women ever since” (lines 32-38). The grandmother sees the mother as a sort of threat and therefore tries to compete with her for the love of the child, as a result is this odd behavior.

However, there is one good thing Agassi feels his Grandmother brings to the family. “Of course, there is one good thing about Grandma living with us. She tells stories about my father, about his childhood, and this sometimes gets my father reminiscing, causes him to open up. “(Lines 39-44). When she tells stories from his father’s past it causes him to open up and it helps Agassi find out what lies behind his father’s ruthless treatment and maybe causes him to be more forgiving.

Naturally, Agassi’s own relationship with his parents is very affected by all of this. He is frustrated with his father for making him play tennis against his will. “I hit for half an hour, my head throbbing, my eyes tearing.”(Lines 258-259).  He finds no love or comfort in the company of his father who only pushes him further in a hopeless attempt to outlive his old dream of being a professional tennis player through his son. Instead, he finds affection by his mother’s side, but despite her solace he feels like she is also letting him down. “Part of me feels grateful for my mother’s endless calm. Part of me, however, a part I don’t like to acknowledge, feels betrayed by it…”(Lines 286-294). When Agassi does not have the strength to stand up to his father he wishes his mother would. Unfortunately, he does not find the support he seeks in neither of his parents.

        The one person Agassi finds to be his only true cony is his uncle Isar whose open personality stands in big contrast to his father’s hostile way of being. When uncle Isar enters the author’s life he instantly idolizes him. He is everything Agassi has been missing in his life. “Uncle Isar is soft-spoken and patient and funny. He’s also a genius” (lines 202-203). Being with his uncle is a new free space he has never experienced before. His teaching and presence differs so much from his own father’s that Agassi almost gets overly confident.

Because his father still possesses a very short temper that easily gets fired up by Agassi’s pranks. An example is when the young Agassi wants to surprise his uncle, but mistakenly ends up yelling at his father and the result is a hit in the face (lines 242-245). No act of comfort follows this episode only a training session filled with resentment and bitterness.

The occurrence of a real role model that Agassi can aspire to become is possibly the main reason he does not end up copying his father’s behavior. “I follow him the way my father followed the British and American soldiers.”(Lines 217-219). In contrast to his father’s dream of a strict and rigid lifestyle, Agassi now realizes that there is an alternative way of life. This also creates a message to the readers. Aiming at both parents that may be too harsh on their kids and children who suffer under a stringent childhood.

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