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Relationship With Parents


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Jane Fonda's autobiography is being serialized in the Guardian this week. The first extract can be found here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,3604,1451514,00.html

The paper included an interview with Fonda to promote the series. It included this passage about her relationship with her father:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,3604,1451492,00.html

The feeling of isolation grew out of a childhood with cold and unresponsive parents. Fonda's mother committed suicide in a mental institution by slitting her throat with a razor. Fonda was told she died of a heart attack and only learned the truth from a celebrity magazine she got hold of at boarding school. Her father, Henry, was remote by virtue of being a legend and was, besides, what she calls a typical man of his generation - incapable of sharing his emotions. "Bringing feelings to my dad was like bringing a dead animal and laying it at his feet; like my cat would do to me with mice and gophers. It would elicit a look like, what do you want me to do about it? He just didn't do it."

This made the scenes they played together in On Golden Pond poignant and peculiar. It was the biggest-grossing film of 1981, in which Fonda and Fonda played out a weird proxy of their own relationship on screen, with Katharine Hepburn as the mother. Didn't her dad find it bizarre that there they were speaking lines about the failure of a father/daughter relationship when they couldn't do it in real life? "I don't know!" says Fonda, throwing up her arms. "Because he would never talk to me about it. I could never get him to tell me! I mean, he was a smart and sensitive man, so he must have known. But I think if he had really allowed himself to talk about it he would have become emotional and cried and he couldn't stand emotions. This is what patriarchy has done to our men. They think the only thing their sons and daughters want are their balls; but what we really want are their hearts."

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