Clarence Thomas' Memoir: My Grandfather's Son

Updated on March 22, 2018
Maya Shedd Temple profile image

Politics, history, & spirituality are part of my writing interests for essays, including short biographical sketches.

Justice Clarence Thomas

Source

Introduction

The book's title is a paradox. At first, it seems to be referring to Thomas' father, or perhaps to an uncle; after all, the son of one's grandfather is, in fact, one's father or uncle. But Thomas begins by narrating a little story about his biological father that reveals a different subject of the title.

Review Commentary

In the preface to Justice Clarence Thomas' memoir, My Grandfather's Son, the justice describes the book, "It is the story of an ordinary man to whom extraordinary things happened."

First Met Biological Father at Age Nine

Thomas was nine years when he met his father, M. C. Thomas, for the first time. Clarence's mother had divorced "C," as he was called, in 1950, and C then relocated from Pinpoint, Georgia, to Philadelphia. Clarence and his brother, Myers, were living with their mother's parents, and one day unexpectedly, the mother called to tell them that someone was at her apartment and wanted to meet them.

They summoned a cab that took them to their mother's housing-project apartment. C was there and announced, "I am your daddy." Clarence describes his father's demeanor, as he made that announcement: "he told us in a firm, shameless voice that carried no hint of remorse for his inexplicable absence from our lives." The man did not tell them that he loved them or that he missed them.

His father did treat them politely and even promised to send them "a pair of Elgin watches with flexible bands that were popular at the time." They watched the mail day after day, and after a year had passed without the watches or further word from their father, their grandparents bought the watches for the boys.

Clarence writes, "My father had broken the only promise he ever made to us." Clarence and his brother often found it hard to understand how "a man could show no interest in his own children." And the justice still wonders how that is possible.

Second Meeting with Father

Clarence saw his father a second time after his high school graduation, when C had come to visit his own father in Montgomery, a town near Pinpoint. Clarence felt that he owed him at least a visit, because C was his father; however, his brother, Myers, refused to see the man again. Clarence also appreciated the fact that his father had not interfered with his grandparents as they raised him and his brother.

Myers wanted nothing to do with his biological father and said, "the only father we had was our grandfather." Clarence admits that it may sound harsh, but Myers' evaluation of the situation was accurate; thus Clarence contends rightly in the paradox, "In every way that counts, I am my grandfather's son."

Tribute to Grandfather

Thomas' memoir is aptly titled. His grandfather, who stepped in to become the young Thomas boys' father, "was dark, strong, proud, and determined to mold me in his image."

Despite a rebellious period when Thomas seemed to reject his grandfather's beliefs, Clarence still sought his approval, and his powerful force in Clarence's life is recognized by the justice as he declares in tribute, "He was the one hero in my life. What I am is what he made me."

Clarence Thomas Speaks at Hillsdale College's Commencement Ceremony

© 2016 Linda Sue Grimes

Comments

Submit a Comment

No comments yet.

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, owlcation.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://owlcation.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)