Sullivan Free Library's Blog

June 19, 2010

Fathers in Fiction

As we get ready to celebrate Father’s Day here in the US, it is a good time to remember some of the famous father figures, good and bad in fiction:

Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The perfect father, Atticus Finch was both gentle and stern.  He showed Jem and Scout how to be good people by example.

Archibold Craven in The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Poor tortured Mr. Craven, couldn’t let go of the past and let himself love his young son.  Thank goodness for cousin Mary who shows up and makes them all bond.

George Darling from Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

The stressed-out-from-work father who tells Wendy she must grow up and stop believing in fairy tales, but by the ends, is a true believer himself.

Mr. Bennet in Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

Poor  Mr. Bennet, who only wanted to be left alone with his books and papers but was always being hounded by the impossible-to-please Mrs. Bennet and five daughters.   But in the end, he was there for them all.

King Lear from King Lear by Shakespeare

Was a father ever more misguided than King Lear, who demanded to know which of his three daughters loved him best and started a chain of events that left him blind and alone?

Pap Finn from Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

One of the most unsympathetic father figures in literature, Huck’s father is a drunk who beats his son and disapproves his efforts to get an education.

Unnamed Father in The Road by Cormac McCarthy

A father and son struggle to survive in a post-apocolyptic world.  We never learn their names but the message is clear–a father will do anything to protect his child.

Pa Joad in The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

In the height of the great depression, Pa Joad packs up his family and heads west, hoping to secure a better future for all of them.

Ted Kramer from Kramer vs Kramer by Avery Corman

Who can forget the scene from the movie starring Dustin Hoffman as he dashes from the playground to the emergency room, clutching his bleeding child to his chest?  This 1977 novel and subsequent movie changed the attitudes of the time toward fathers and custody and showed that it’s not only mothers who can nuture and care for children.


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