“Son of Satan” by Charles Bukowski | Analytical essay

Son of Satan is a short story written in 1982 by the author Charles Bukowski. The short story revolves around themes of social heritage and the rite of passage.

In the following analytical essay, I will analyze and interpret the short story, “Son of Satan” with a focus on characterization, setting, themes, and message.

Son of Satan is a short story about a young boy, who sees himself as the leader of a self- made gang, containing his two buddies, Hass and Morgan and himself.

One day, the gang decides to get hold of a boy named Simpson. According to the protagonist, Simpson might have claimed that he ‘fucked’ a girl under the narrator’s house.

This impulsive action of getting hold of Simpson leads to several problems, almost resulting in a horrific murder of the poor Simpson. In the end, the narrator gets caught by his father, who appears to be extremely dissatisfied with his son, and even claims that his own son is surely the Son of Satan.

The setting of the story is probably in the city and takes place somewhere out in America, probably in a socially deprived part, which we can interpret based on the following quote: “[...] we sat on the grass in the sun behind my father’s garage an smoked cigarettes.”

We know that the narrator in the story is eleven years old, which means that his friends might be of the same age. At the age of eleven years old, smoking is comparatively early, even in the year of publication of the story.

Based on how the word ‘neighborhood’ is spelled in the story, which is in the American way, we know that the story takes place in America.

It is a small village with few residents, which can be seen from the following quote: “Yeah. That son of a bitch claims ha fucked a girl under my house last week.

It’s a god damned lie!” As the quote describes, the story takes place in a small village, since rumors like these spreads like wildfire. This could not be possible if the story took place in a big village with several residents.

The short story extends over a period of one day, and takes place in a realistic environment in the summertime, as the quote clarifies: “[...] it was summer, no school [...]”

The short story revolves around social heritage and social positions in general. The message of the story is to illuminate that the apple never falls far from the tree. Like father, like son.

We get to see how the narrator’s father’s manners reflect in the son’s manners. In the short story, the narrator does not make any transition from childhood, or adolescence, to maturity, probably because he remains in a negative social legacy.

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