For all of you living in a hole, Sunday is Father’s Day.
Along with thoughts of ties and drills, I’m
thinking about books and characters. I can’t help it. Authors do these
things. I'm also contemplating fathers in literature. Well,
not just any dads, good dads. What I've realized is . . . they’re hard to find. I’m not
sure if that’s because we are modeling our stories after society or because
we’re writing what is trendy? After all, if the child has to become the hero, her parents must be dead, dying or delinquent. My question is, does it REALLY have
to be this way? Can't we have some heroic fathers, too. There must be some fabulous father
figures out there?
Maybe you can help me! Do you have a favorite book with a cool dad? If so, I’d like to add him to my list. In the mean time,
here are a few that feel destined to be on most people’s list of The Top Ten Dads in Stories. See if you
Heroic Dad: The actor who plays Brick
on the television show The Middle is
named Atticus. My guess is he’s named after Atticus Finch who, in my
estimation, has to be THE best dad anyone could have. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout observes her father at home and in the
court room and, while he is human and has his faults (maybe?), he is an EPIC dad
in every sense of the word. Hats off to Atticus, and to Harper Lee who created
such a great character.
2. Secure Dad Yes, these days fathers seem
to come and go, but not Pa Ingalls As described by his daughter, Laura Ingalls
Wilder in the Little House series, Pa
was the kind of father whom you could count on. He may have been a “country”
man, but he was intelligent and brave and humorous. And while he kept his
family safe in the wildness, he allowed his Half-Pint, Laura, to explore her
world and to use her talents outside of the home.
Dad: The Book Thief by Marcus
Zusak is up there as one of my Top Ten All-Time Favorite books, in great part
because of its father figure, Hans Hubermann. In the midst of World War II and
dire circumstances, Hans takes the moral high road again and again, despite the
personal threat to his life by the Nazis. Through his actions, 13-year old
Liesel, his foster daughter, learns to stand up for injustice herself. And,
like the narrator Death, the reader comes away loving her for it.
A Modern Day in a Classic World: Mr. Bennett is father to
Jane, Lizzy, Mary, Kitty and Lydia, in Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. In many
ways, he is a classic Victorian father. He doesn’t want to meddle in the
everyday decisions of the family. He leaves those things up to his wife.
However, when Lizzy is about to make the mistake of her life by marrying a dud
like Mr. Collins in order to save her family from financial ruin, Mr. Bennett
pulls through. In his words, “An unhappy alternative is before
you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents.
Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and
I will never see you again if you do.
Inventor Dad: In The Invention of Hugo
Cabret by Brian Selznick, Hugo is inspired by his father, even though he
is deceased. As with so many stories, there are characters who give the
protagonist the will to persevere and they do so from the grave. It is the
memory of his father that keeps Hugo tinkering with the automation, and it is
the skills that his father gave him that help Hugo succeed. Along the way, Hugo
discovers a new father in Georges Méliès, who begins to offer his love to the
orphan when he needs it most .
before our own economic struggles, Ramona Quimby’s father had a few of his own.
In Ramona and Her Father by Beverly
Cleary, Robert Quimby, aka Bob, has lost his job and Ramona’s mother must
go back to work. Certainly Cleary was ahead of her time in many ways with this
theme, but Mr. Mom Quimby enjoys spending time with his daughters, even though
they always give him a run for his money.
Dad, But…: I have to include one father who barely makes the
list. Paine Underwood is the father of Noah in Flush by Carl Hiaason. When the story opens, Noah is visiting his
dad in jail on, you guessed it, Father’s Day. Paine is as far removed from
Atticus Finch as you can get and yet, he is in jail for trying to do the right
thing. He wants to stop his former boss, Dusty Muleman, from dumping waste from
the Coral Queen’s holding tanks into
the water at night. Initially, Noah is anything but pleased with his father’s
actions. That’s until he uncovers his father’s true motivations—that
he’s trying to save his family and the environment, It’s by following in his
father’s footsteps that Noah saves the day.
Timeless Dad: Mr.
Murry in A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, is another father who has disappeared.
While his daughter is considered a misfit in many peoples’ eyes, Mr. Murry has
faith in Meg, knowing it will be her intelligence that will rescue him from It, a giant disembodied brain, on the
Loveable Dad: Trixie’s dad in Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale
by Mo Willems might be mistaken for a pair of legs and nothing more…and yet, he
is a truly loveable father. Most likely, he is the one who has played a role in
the loss of Trixie’s beloved bunny, but he is also the dad who will do anything
to get that bunny back.
Life is Beautiful is a story as well, but most of remember Guido onscreen. He
is the father of Joshua and is portrayed by Roberto Bernini. At first he is a
fun, lovable guy who is known for his silly displays and sweet charm. As life
grows more horrific for father and son in a Nazi death camp, Guido continues to
preserve his son’s spirit, protecting
him by making fun of the evil monsters surrounding them.