Dreams and Reality
In “In Dreams Begin Responsibilities” Delmore Schwartz works with themes of illusions,
fate, and truth. He does this through the mother, the boardwalk, and light. Swartz is saying
people don't like to accept the reality they live in.
The mother’s unrealistic vision of the future eventually leads to many disappointments.
By the ocean, she notices women her age with children playing in the sand, and believes that,
although she doesn't have strong feelings for the father, she might be able to have a happy
family. “She notices the children digging...girls who are her own age...My mother and
father...absently stare at the ocean.” The mother imagines her and her future husband as a happy,
superior couple, however in reality they act as quite the opposite. “They are going to Coney
Island...my mother considers such pleasures inferior… My father suggests the best restaurant on
the boardwalk and my mother demurs.” Her fantasies about the grand proposal she will finally
receive, like in her romance novels, were crushed when the father did it in the middle of a
random conversation. “...awkwardly enough and puzzled as to how he had arrived at the
question, and she, to make the whole business worse, begins to cry..” The mother puts faith in
her dreams, which hides the reality of her relationship behind a screen.
The different booths on the boardwalk presented signs of how the parents relationship
was destined to transpire. When sitting in the photographers booth, the photographer tried his
best to make the couple look ‘right’, but it was clear they were not entirely happy. “...he is not
satisfied with their appearance….somehow there is something wrong in their pose...my father's
smile turns to a grimace...my mothers bright and false.” The parents decide to play on the merry-
go- round, and again, ignore their incompatibility when the father tries to act superior...