Reading Journal


The book, “Under the Influence” is about a son who gives an account of how his alcoholic father was and the causes of his father’s demise.

The main theme of the story is alcoholism. The story highlights on how the father used to conceal alcohol in order to drink it later. In the beginning, he thinks that his father’s predicaments are due to his failures in school and home. However, at the end of the story, the son discovers that he was not the source of his problems but instead alcoholism was.

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In bizarre circumstances, he also follows his dads’ footsteps and becomes an alcoholic. From the narration, it is evident that individuals are affected, in one way or another, by the kind of actions taken by others. In this case, the narrator’s father was always drunk and his death affected his friends, family and himself.

The tale relates to the narrator’s personal life. He confesses, “Alcoholism does run in my family but really only affected two people, my dad and my grandpa”. He goes on saying, “I was mortified” (Sanders, 1989). Alcoholism caused a lot of troubles in this family. From its effects, the narrator’s dad became irresponsible, cruel and at the end, the doctor’s recommended a liver transplant for him.

At the same time, the narrator’s grandpa was dying due as a result of the same. The impact of alcohol is so intense that, “In matter of minutes, the content of a bottle could transform a brave man into a coward, a buddy into a bully, a gifted athlete and skilled carpenter and shrewd business man into a bumbler”.

The book, “The Inheritance of Tools,” explains the significance of family associations and parental leadership in the development of a human being. Beginning with his grandfather, the storyteller’s family created a connection through the utilization of tools.

The narrator illustrates this connection by saying, “The tools in my workbench are a double inheritance, for each hammer and level and saw is wrapped in a cloud of knowing” (Sanders, 1986). According to the narrator, his association with his children, grandfather, and father is vital to life, character, education as well as the entire family. His initial teachings about life were based on his dad’s advice.


In this book, “Under the Influence”, it is revealed that the brain is exceedingly vulnerable to the utilization of alcohol. It is stated in the story that, “When drunk, our father was clearly in his wrong mind.

He became a stranger, as fearful to us as any graveyard lunatic, not quite frothing at the mouth but fierce enough, quick-tempered, explosive: or else he grew maudlin and weepy, which frightened us nearly as much” (Sanders, 1989). The effect of alcohol on an individual varies as it can alter the way one thinks and make one to become a great liar as well as violent.

This situation is so serious that the children have to keep their father in check. This habit has become an obsession that individuals cannot let go. Consequently, alcohol drinking does not only affect the consumers but also their families. It is brought out in the narration that, “Living with an alcoholic is definitely hard”.

In “The Inheritance of Tools,” the narrator talks of the knowledge that he attained from his dad by saying, “On our walk to the house, he explained that sound takes time to make its way through the air.” He further provides insight into how he was taught by the dad at a tender age on how to utilize a hammer.

His father used to tell him, “Don’t look at your hands; don’t look at the hammer. Just look at the head of the nail and pretty soon you’ll learn to hit it square.” He transfers this same knowledge to his own children. He explains to his daughter that by putting food to the fore of the vents would ultimately lure the gerbils out and back to safety.

He says, “The grain in hickory is crooked and knotty, and therefore tough, hard to split, like the grain in the two men who owned this hammer before me”. He did this while referring to the character of his grandfather and father. From the knowledge of his father as well as the tales of his grandfather, the storyteller portrays how he attained his personality and character.

The character teachings from his grandfather started with the tale of the house he constructed. He asserts, “After proposing marriage to a neighbor girl, my grandfather used this hammer to build a house for his bride on a stretch of river” (Sanders, 1986).


The importance of the narrative, “Under the Influence”, is that it enables the narrator to acknowledge that he has a family yet he is taking after his dead dad, an alcoholic. He vividly understands the consequences of alcoholism and the kind of trouble he will put his family in.

The second story also touches on the issue of becoming aware of the environment and how to handle it. The current society harbors a lot of alcoholics and this has presented a big challenge to the existence of the family. This menace has made it possible for the growth of prevention groups to minimize its impact.

This story, “Under the Influence” best suits those individuals who have alcoholics within their families since it highlights on the effects of alcoholism. Consequently, it serves to enlighten those individuals whose families do not have alcoholics. The narrative is well outlined and the theme alcoholism well brought out.


Sanders, S. (1986). The Inheritance of Tools. New York, NY: Mc-Graw Hill. Print

Sanders, S. (1989). Under the Influence. New York, NY: SAGE. Print