Riddle – Santa Monica, California

“Brothers and sisters, I have none. But that man’s father is my father’s son.

Who am I?”

Answer: the speaker

My mother, Tica, first heard this riddle from her father when she was a young girl of about 10 years old. She said he would say it at dinner parties and social gatherings as a mental challenge for the guests. She described the social setting as a showcase of his wits, continuing to amaze guests with his bountiful supply of brain teasers and puzzles. He would ask it in a straightforward and stern manner, almost commanding you to answer correctly. He would give his audience as much time as they needed to venture their guesses, and would only reveal the answer if no one could answer correctly. He would acknowledge a person when they answered correctly, but many times he would have to reveal the answers of many puzzles to shouts of, “Oh, of course!” She said he seemed to retain a sense of pride when he stumped his audience and had to enlighten them.

My mother described my grandfather as the quintessential patriarch who you could always go to for advice. This riddle therefore, was a way for him to not only show off his wisdom and intelligence, but a friendly way in which he could gain trust from his family by entertaining in recreation with them. This riddle can be looked at as a search for identity and the quest for independence and individuality. Because my grandfather was the one proposing the riddle, it implies that he has found a sense of identity and independence can thus be sought after for guidance. This riddle establishes a generational gap in a coming of age and self-discovery motif.

When my mother first said the riddle, my initial response was Jesus. The mention of “father’s son” brought images of a Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ. Therefore this riddle can also carry with it religious aspects as well. The significance of religion in my Catholic family is very profound. Thus I would also say that this riddle also implies the importance of faith in establishing one’s identity. Faith can also provide much-needed guidance in addition to that of a wise and experienced mentor such as a grandfather. This riddle therefore symbolizes the passing of knowledge and wisdom from individuals of different generations with the support of faith along the way.