(Found) Man beats son: Post nuke war


Well-Known Member
Oct 17, 2020
Novel c1950s.
Set generations after World War Three. All I can remember was a man beats and kills or nearly kills his son because the son said "I only have two hands." when the father was asking him to do something faster. He tried to explain but the father just said he was lying..."We all heard him say he wishes he was a mutie." One of a number of such novels, but I don't remember which one.
The excerpt from my ebook.....

His eyes had become less incredulous, more accusing.
'And you wished you had a third hand!'
'No, father. I only said if I had another hand ...'
'. . . you would be able to tie it. If that was not a wish, what was it?'
'I only meant if,' I protested. I was alarmed, and too confused to explain that I had only happened to use one way of expressing a difficulty which might have been put in several ways. I was aware that the rest had stopped gaping at me, and were now looking apprehensively at my father.
His expression was grim.
'You—my own son—were calling upon the Devil to give you another hand!' he accused me.
'But I wasn't. I only—'
'Be quiet, boy. Everyone in this room heard you. You'll certainly make it no better by lying.'
'Were you, or were you not, expressing dissatisfaction with the form of the body God gave you—the form in His own image?'
'I just said if I—'
'You blasphemed, boy. You found fault with the Norm. Everybody here heard you. What have you to say to that? You know what the Norm is?'
I gave up protesting. I knew well enough that my father in his present mood would not try to understand. I muttered, parrot-like:
'"The Norm is the Image of God".'
'You do know—and yet, knowing this, you deliberately wished yourself a Mutant. That is a terrible thing, an outrageous thing. You, my son, committing blasphemy, and before his parents!'
In his sternest pulpit voice, he added:
'What is a Mutant?'
'"A thing accursed in the sight of God and man",' I mumbled.
'And that is what you wished to be! What have you to say?'
With a heart-sunk certainty that it would be useless to say anything, I kept my lips shut and my eyes lowered
I liked the guy. He came to the IC HG Wells society wine and cheese party in 1966(?), centenary of something. I was sitting at the same table and we were arguing with Brian Aldiss and Kinsley Amis. A very good (if somewhat inebriated) heated discussion, which I enjoyed considerably.
I thought I had posted that reply a couple days ago, but when I checked the forum it was still waiting to be posted.
Anyway, as I said, found.
Well, I finished rereading ($0.99 on Kindle).
Holds up well for a Fifties postnuke novel. I conflated the saying he only had two hands (for which he was only made to kneel for a couple hours while his father ranted imprecatory prayers over him) and another incident where his father whipped him. Not bad memory for a book read as a kid over half a century ago.

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