Friday, February 10, 2012

Literary Dads

When I wrote my Literary Moms post last month I said that I would tackle the fathers next. I thought this might be a little easier (even though, as with my mom, no fictional father can come close to the awesomeness that is my dad). It wasn't though. Again I thought of several that were good "types", but again not very many that actually stirred me enough to place the label favorite on them. (Charles Ingalls and Mr. Quimby fall into this category for me.) Here are the ones that I have grown attached to enough to truly care about:

The Minister of War
Funny that a character who doesn't even have a name, just a title, was the first to pop into my head. He is, of course, written by Megan Whalen Turner who can make you want to know every detail of a character she mentions in one paragraph. As this is the father of her amazingly awesome hero he doesn't actually need a name to make him well loved. The MoW gets awesome points for being Gen's father and surviving to his son's adulthood with his sanity intact. Then there are all the little details given in both The Thief and The Queen of Attolia that show how much he cares for his son and wants what is best for him (even when they disagree over what that is). Like most father/son relationships this one is fraught with tension at times, but there is so much evident love and respect between the two of them despite not completely understanding each other.

Martin Penderwick
Martin Penderwick is absent minded and, at times, in over his head with four daughters. However, that he loves them more than anything on the earth is clearly evident. He allows them a great deal of freedom, but I think this is a good thing. He does not stifle them and does not try to make their lives easier. When they do something they shouldn't, he disciplines them well and shows them he loves them at the same time. He is also admits to his own faults and has conversations with the girls that are priceless.

Matthew Cuthbert
I don't care that he wasn't Anne's "real" father, he totally counts! Matthew was as strong as a rock, and as gentle as a lamb. The way he loves Anne unconditionally and silently encourages her from the first time the meet until is death is wonderful.

Robert Spinelli
He doesn't come off in the best of lights at times because Saving Francesca is from Francesca's point of view and she is angry. He becomes the target of her anger as she would feel guilty throwing it at her mom. If you read between the lines of Francesca's hurt and frustration you get the picture of an amazing man though, one who has weaknesses like any other, but whose strengths more than make up for it. Their conversation toward the end is just the icing on the cake. Every time I read this book I tear up when I get to the, "Just tell me where you are" part. Sniff.

You will notice that while Mrs. Murry made my list of moms, Mr. Murry did not make this one. For some reason I've always been able to dismiss him easily. He falls into the same category as Mr. Ingalls and Mr. Quimby. Charlotte from Charlotte's Library has written a fascinating post on both Murry parents and the other parental figures in A Wrinkle in Time that is worth a read if you haven't seen it yet.

I want to know who would be on your list!


  1. Hmmm... I'll have to read Charlotte's post on the Murrys for sure. I think I agree with your list above except for the dad from Sav. Fran. I thought he was quite the nitwit in many respects....

    Oh--this is from picture book/easy reader world, but I love the dad in Mouse Tales, Father Bear in the Little Bear books, the dad in the Frances books, ... basically they're all "involved" dads and seem to "get" their little ones, yet they remain firmly in the "dad role" instead of become the kid's "friend." Does that make sense?

    1. Those are good examples! (Although the Little Bear characters have all always creeped me out a bit. It's like sacrilege to confess that, but it's true.)

      Re Bob Spinelli: I don't think he behaves like "nitwit" at all. He is a man who fixes things for a living and is in over his head because there is something huge that is broken and he can't fix it. I also think how lost he is regarding the running of the household, buying of groceries, etc. is realistic. My husband would be just as clueless as he has no part in that at all. I do think if you asked Francesca to describe him that's the word she would use though. Until the end of the book when she realizes she has been unfair to him. I always thought that was why Mia told her that story of her snubbing her father and not speaking to him because she thought he was uneducated and a fool. It was a gentle admonishment. I knew not everyone would agree with that choice though. I have read the book so many times and it was only on rereads that his character stood out to me more and more. (Plus there are a couple mentions of him in The Piper's Son that always make me think well of him too.)

  2. I love the Minister of War! Even though we have no idea what his name is. I wonder how many kids he has and if he's as close to them as he is to Gen? I agree with everything that you said - there's mutual respect between the two of them even if they don't understand each other.

    1. We don't know so much about Gen's siblings do we? Only that he has two brothers and sisters who are married. I have always wondered about all of them.

  3. I would have to add Frank Willis from the 100 Cupboards Trilogy, though we see him interact more as Henry's surrogate father. I love that he's not the outwardly emotional type, but takes the time to invest in Henry where his father has failed.