Pinter presents Max as the dispossessed alpha male, fighting in an ethological battle against his three sons. His attempts to retain his power are unsuccessful as his questions and insults are, for the most part, completely ignored. He feels unheard in his own home as he asks “do you hear what I’m saying? I’m talking to you”; he has become subordinate and has lost his dominance. Seen as a patriarchal interrogator and intimidator in his younger years, highlighted by him entering the play with a question “what have you done with the scissors?” and telling stories about his ‘glory days’, Max uses exclamations, expletives and questions to try to draw out those around him.
Feminising his brother and sons, by calling them insults such as “whore” and “slutbitch”, Max tries to regain ground in the power struggle between the Hackney predators. By calling Sam a “bitch” he not only emasculates him but also attacks his suspected homosexuality. Max’s reminiscence of when he and MacGregor “were two of the worst hated men” he attempts to instill fear and trepidation among those listening to his story and to scare Lenny into submission. His speech is reminiscent of that given by Ronnie Kray, infamous London thug in the 50s/60s, who said he and his brother were “fucking untouchable”. His language register is similar to that of Max, pugilistic, aggressive and filled with expletives.
Max’s violence is hinted by Lenny’s mocking of “don’t use your stick on me Daddy”. Although said with a sarcastic tone the resisting reader can see the subtext and underlying reality that Max did used to use the stick on his sons to discipline them. This subtext is enhanced when Lenny speaks of when his father used to “toss” him in the air then “catch” him coming down. The ambivalence of this phrase could show that Max was a caring, playful endearing father or that he was careless and violent with his sons.
In The Homecoming language is seen as “an attempt to cover nakedness” Max’s vulnerability is...