This article is a study of the relationship between father and son in the novel Indische
duinen (1994) by Adriaan van Dis (translated in 1996 into English as My Father's
War) within the context of postwar and postcolonial Dutch society. It relates the process by which an adult son, 36 years after the death of his father, Justin, comes to terms with the memory of a man whom he has always seen as unreasonably strict and even cruel. During this process the son discovers the effects of colonialism in the Dutch East Indies (subsequently Indonesia) and the rapid decolonisation and repatriation to the Netherlands upon his father. For Justin the latter experiences amount to what Kaja Silverman (1992: 55) refers to as "historical trauma". The experiences that shaped Justin and influenced his behaviour towards his son are linked to what Paul Ricoeur (1992: 12) would refer to as Justin's "narrative identity" and his sense of masculinity (Connell, 1995: 77-81) which have both been marginalised within the dominant fiction of the postcolonial society in which he lived. As the son discovers the father through a process of retelling both his father's story and the story of their relationship, he is able to gain a sense of understanding and closure.