my knicker stockings drag at my shoes, i see
to that; my homework is completed weeks in
advance of the assignment—let’s face it, Ma,
i am the smartest and neatest little boy in the
man of the house
title iX. Of Paternal Power.
a child, at every age, owes honor and respect
to his father and mother.
he remains subject to their control until
his majority or emancipation.
The father alone exercises this control
a child cannot quit the paternal mansion
without the permission of his father, unless
for voluntary enlistment after the full age of
a father who shall have cause of grievous
dissatisfaction at the conduct of a child, shall
have the following means of correction:
if the child has not commenced his six-
teenth year, the father may cause him to be
confined for a period which shall not exceed
one month, and to this effect the president of
the court of the circle shall be bound, on his
petition, to deliver an order of arrest.
From the age of sixteen years commenced
to the majority or emancipation, the father is
only empowered to require the confinement
of his child during six months at the most; he
shall apply to the president of the aforesaid
court, who, after having conferred thereon
with the commissioner of government, shall
deliver an order of arrest or refuse the same,
and may in the first case abridge the time of
confinement required by the father.
There shall not be in either case any writing
or judicial formality except the order itself for
arrest, in which the reasons thereof shall not
be set forth. The father shall only be required
to subscribe an undertaking to defray all expenses and to supply suitable support.
From the Napoleonic Code. The French Revolution
having modified or abolished various customary and
canon laws, Napoleon’s code attempted to impose
the order of “sublimated common sense” on matters
civil, proprietary, and contractual. The code was
adopted throughout the nineteenth century in many
European and Latin American countries. Napoleon
once remarked, “Waterloo will destroy the memory of
so many victories…But what nothing will destroy,
what will last forever, is my Civil Code.” It is still in
effect in Belgium, Luxembourg, and Monaco.
history of my school! teachers (as you know, as
they have told you) go home happy to their husbands because of me. so what is it i have done?
Will someone with the answer to that question please stand up! i am so awful she will not
have me in her house a minute longer. When i
once called my sister a cocky-doody, my mouth
was immediately washed with a cake of brown
laundry soap; this i understand. But banishment? What can i possibly have done!
Because she is good she will pack a lunch
for me to take along, but then out i go, in my
coat and my galoshes, and what happens is not
Okay, i say, if that’s how you feel! (For i
have the taste for melodrama too—i am not in
this family for nothing.) i don’t need a bag of
lunch! i don’t need anything!
i don’t love you anymore, not a little boy
who behaves like you do. i’ll live alone here with
daddy and hannah, says my mother (a master
really at phrasing things just the right way to kill
you.) hannah can set up the mahjongg tiles for
the ladies on tuesday night. We won’t be needing you anymore.
Who cares! and out the door i go, into the
long dim hallway. Who cares! i will sell newspapers on the streets in my bare feet. i will ride
where i want on freight cars and sleep in open
fields, i think—and then it is enough for me to
see the empty milk bottles standing by our welcome mat, for the immensity of all i have lost
to come breaking over my head. “i hate you!” i
holler, kicking a galosh at the door; “You stink!”
to this filth, to this heresy booming through the
corridors of the apartment building where she
is vying with twenty other Jewish women to be
the patron saint of self-sacrifice, my mother has
no choice but to throw the double-lock on our
door. This is when i start to hammer to be let
in. i drop to the doormat to beg forgiveness for
my sin (which is what again?) and promise her
nothing but perfection for the rest of our lives,
which at that time i believe will be endless.
Then there are the nights i will not eat. My
sister, who is four years my senior, assures me
that what i remember is fact: i would refuse to