It was difficult to select just one meaningful scene from Jimmy Corrigan’s story; however, one frame in particular seemed to sum up the entire plot. Near the end of the book, Jimmy’s African American sister is driving them to their father’s apartment to pick up some of his clothes. The previous frames are studded with, as usual, long uncomfortable silences as Jimmy proves to be unhappy, socially inept, and emotionally damaged throughout the tale. As Jimmy sits in the passenger seat of his father’s station wagon, Amy attempts to make polite conversation with her seemingly stupid brother. She then looks at Jimmy, wearing his father’s old boots, hat, and coat, and states, “You look just like Grandpa.”
To further explain what I believe to be the significance of this statement, we must first reflect on Grandpa Jimmy’s experiences as a child. His childhood is portrayed through extensive flashbacks throughout the story, which illustrate life with his physically and verbally abusive father. His mother was absent from his childhood, he was unable to make or maintain friendships, and he hit rock bottom at a young age when his father abandoned him at the fair. James’ character was shaped by these unfortunate circumstances and events, and many of his traits were inherited by young Jimmy.
Though Amy recognizes the physical similarities between Jimmy and his grandfather, unbeknownst to her she has also drawn attention to the internal similarities that they share. Both have vivid, violent daydreams where their introverted personalities become nonexistent and they can seek revenge on those who have hurt them: often, members of their family. Parental abandonment also runs in the Corrigan family, as both Grandpa Jimmy and young Jimmy have experienced estrangement from their fathers. It doesn’t take a psychologist to diagnose these men: their anger issues, inability to hold conversation, unhappiness, and lack of self-confidence are direct results of their respective pathetic childhood upbringings. In contrast to the Corrigan males, Amy’s personable demeanor greatly conflicts with the norm of Corrigan family, as does her physical appearance and her introduction into the family. Perhaps because she was adopted Amy has avoided the Corrigan curse that seems to be passed down through generations.
Ware’s usage of reoccurring flashbacks throughout the story effectively parallel Amy’s thoughts in this particular illustrated frame: Grandpa’s childhood experiences ultimately explain how Jimmy has become the person that he is. The Corrigan family history portrays the passing down of dysfunctional parent-child relationships, which in turn have affected every child involved in nearly identical ways. Same in name, appearance, and persona, young Jimmy Corrigan indeed “looks just like grandpa.”