Andi Cumbo raises a good topic for discussion for Father’s Day:
Maybe it’s just what I choose to read, but it seems to me that I’ve not read many books with father figures I just adore. Mothers, yes – Kate Murry from A Wrinkle in Time, Lamott’s Operating Instructions, Mrs. Mularkey in Firefly Lane. Not perfect mothers, of course, but mothers I appreciate and respect.
For the life of me, on this Father’s Day, I’m really having trouble pulling up the books where father character’s shine. … Father figures crop up — like Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings. But good, solid fathers, those are rare I think.
The list of “good, solid fathers” in our stories has to begin, I think, with Atticus Finch.
Shakespeare provides a treasure trove of great characters, but if you’re looking for “good, solid fathers,” the Bard isn’t much help. I grew up on the stories of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Walt Disney, George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg and they’re not much help either. Neither is Jane Austen.
There’s Jonathan Kent. And if we’re counting step-fathers, then also probably Jean Valjean. Umm, Charles Ingalls. And Cliff Huxtable, the archetypal sit-com dad.
Carson Drew, maybe (but definitely not Fenton Hardy). Arthur Weasley. George Bailey. Marlin from Finding Nemo.
More recently I suppose we could include Josiah Bartlett and Eric Taylor. Probably also a handful of the good people of Port William, Kentucky. Maybe “the man” from Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.
Do vengeful dads count? Like Liam Neeson in Taken or Denzel in John Q?
What if we consider “the Bible as literature”? That doesn’t do much to add to our list. Joseph (if he doesn’t count as a repeat of Jonathan Kent). Jairus. And … well, let me think. I’m sure there are other “good, solid fathers” in the Bible, but just as with other books, plays and movies, it’s far easier to think of counter-examples than it is of candidates for this list.
We could speculate as to whether this tells us something about fathers or something about storytellers and stories, but let’s try to flesh out this list a bit more first. Who am I forgetting? Who else belongs on the list of “good, solid fathers” in literature?