Literary Dads who Deserve a Father’s Day (and some that don’t)
19th June, 2016
Here are some much loved literary father figures, both the conventional and the unconventional ones. And three detestable bookish dads who do not deserve Father’s Day wishes at all.
This is the time of year for celebrating the great men in our life – fathers, father figures and the like. Here is a list of some of my favourite fathers in literature. And also a few of the unloved ones in books.
THE GREAT DADS :
1. Mr. BENNET (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen)
Mr. Bennet is one of my favourite father figures. His humour is impeccable. Being in a house with five unmarried girls and a wife who dramatizes every conversation with her nerves is no small thing, and Mr. Bennet does it with style.
My most memorable scene is Mr. Bennet taking Elizabeth’s side when she disagrees to marry Mr. Collins. Patient, intelligent and a reader, Mr. Bennet is sure to steal your heart.
2. ARTHUR WEASLEY (Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling)
Arthur Weasley is the “fun-dad”. He sure is well loved in his huge family of six sons – Bill, Charlie, Percy, twins Fred and George, and Ron, and daughter, Ginny. I see Mr. Weasley as a dad you can count on, someone to whom you can talk about any of your problems. Whether it be standing up for his children or welcoming their friends as part of the family or being strong willed in what he thinks is right or meddling with Muggle stuff, Arthur Weasley is the man!
3. GERALD O’ HARA (Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell)
Gerald is a passionately loyal Confederate who immigrated to America from Ireland as a young man. Scarlett is so unlady like in her temperament in the beginning of the book and I really love how her father is able to understand her nature. Later on in life Scarlett realizes that she takes after her father in her personality. It is from her father that Scarlett gets her fighting spirit, her quick wit, her nasty temper and the love for the plantation at Tara.
I adore the scene in the movie where the father and the daughter stand under the tree and talk. Gerald is no doubt one of the most understanding fathers in literature.
4. ATTICUS FINCH (To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee)
Atticus Finch is a story in himself. One of the fathers in literature that one can look upto as a role model. Raising Scout and Jem as a single father is no small task. What makes him stand out is the way he teaches virtues of acceptance and open mindedness to his children while bringing them up in a region heavily scarred by racism.
I have not read the sequel Go Set A Watchman and I have heard many readers severely disagreeing about the book. Maybe my admiration for him would change when I read it, but till then, Cheers to Atticus Finch!
5. ASHOKE GANGULI (The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri)
Ashoke Ganguli is an example of a detached yet loving father. Though The Namesake is the story of Gogol, there is an underlying current in the story that tells the story of his father Ashoke Ganguli. I adore the fact that he is a dad who doesn’t force his views or culture on his children who are growing up in America. He lets them grow, in whichever direction they want. I love the occasional conversations he has with his son.
Favourite part – Him gifting a book by the Russian writer Nikolai Gogol to his son, but his son unaware of the importance of his namesake tosses it aside and busies himself with his other gifts. Particularly heartbreaking is the scene where he picks up the book again, after many years.
6. OTTO FRANK (Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank)
There are no words to describe how good a father Otto Frank was. Here is a father who encourages his daughters in every way possible, who inspires his children and who gives hope to a family hiding for the safety of their lives.
Anne Frank is one of my favourite books. I have read it several times and have been close to tears every single time. I am indebted to Otto Frank for striving to get his daughter’s diary published and thus making her dream of being a writer come true even though it was after her death.
THE UNCONVENTIONAL ONES
7. MATHEW CUTHBERT (Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery)
Though not Anne’s biological father, the dynamics between Mathew and Anne are a pleasure to read. Here is a man who has no prior experience with children, yet adores the little girl who was mistakenly adopted by him and Marilla. I love what a great listener Mathew is.
Favourite scene – Mathew buying puffed sleeves for Anne. He definitely is a ‘kindred spirit’.
8. SILAS MARNER (Silas Marner by George Eliot)
Another much loved adopted father figure. I love how the entry of the golden haired Eppie brings about so many positive changes in Silas Marner’s life inspite of the fact that her biological father, Godfrey, refuses to accept the child as his own and shirks from all responsibilities.
Favourite scene – Well, difficult to pick one. But maybe the time he had to punish Eppie.
9. GRANDFATHER (The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht)
Unconventional father figure in literature because it is Natalia, the heroine’s grandfather. They share a close bond and when he meets with an untimely death, Natalia embarks on a journey into the dangerous war ravaged lands of Balkans to find out the truth.
Favourite part – The countless stories narrated by the grandfather to Natalia, each mystical in its own way.
10. SIRIUS BLACK (Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling)
Technically not father, but godfather. But he is the closest to a father figure in Harry Potter’s life. And a cool dad too. Come to think of it, I really wish I could have included Severus Snape in the list.
AND THE BAD DADS :
1. HUMBERT (Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov)
I have not read Lolita yet, inspite of it being a great work in literature. Humbert is the reason why!
The gist of it – He falls in love with “Lolita” , the 12-year-old daughter of his landlady, Charlotte; he marries Charlotte in order to become closer to her daughter. Then controls her life and freedom after (and before) her mother’s death. A deeply disturbing father figure indeed.
Definitely not someone to wish on Father’s Day.
2. EUGENE ACHIKE (Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)
Eugene – the abusive father, highly respected in the village and church but a terrifying figure in the household because of his strict rules and severe punishments towards his children and wife. I winced in pain while reading of some of the punishments he inflicted. The story follows the lives of Kambili and her brother, Chukwuka who love in constant fear of their father . I love the narration of how Kambili loves her father dearly but is not able to see through his abusive nature while her brother slowly begins to question their mutual love and respect for the dad.
One of my much loved reads, but not a likeable father figure.
3.HARRY WORMWOOD (Matilda by Roald Dahl)
After the two dads above, Harry Wormwood does seem like an angel. Here is a dad who hoards money through shady means and prides himself in educating his children on how to earn by crooked means, who encourage his dunce of a son but completely ignores his prodigy of a daughter.
Wormwood must be the only dad who encourages watching television and disapproves reading books. Thank fully Matilda takes after neither of her parents. This is one of my favourite Dahl novels.
Do you have any favourite father figures in books? Or any villains in the role of a father? Have you read the books in the list above?