Fathers in Literature

With Father’s Day on Sunday I’d like to take this opportunity to mention some of my favourite fathers from literature.

to_kill_a_mockingbirdAtticus Finch

     To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The most obvious choice for both his parenting and his moral code, Atticus should top any list of great dads from literature.

fault_in_our_starsHazel’s Father

     The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Although arguably a minor character, Hazel’s father made me feel that I might, in some small way, begin to understand the thoughts and emotions around experiencing tragedy. In this case, having a child with terminal cancer.

pride_and_prejudiceMr. Bennet

     Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Mr. Bennet clearly won’t win father of the year with his laissez-faire parenting. However, he’s by far the most amusing character in the novel and he doesn’t make Lizzy marry Mr. Collins, so, all-in-all, I like him.

invisible_roadTziga Hame and Nown

     The Dreamhunter Duet (published individually as Dreamhunter and Dreamquake and as one volume under the title The Invisible Road) by Elizabeth Knox

A famous dreamhunter (one who can enter a magic realm and bring out vivid dreams to project for a sleeping audience), Tziga Hame has made some morally corrupt choices. Yet, the intense devotion his daughter Laura shows when Tziga goes missing speaks volumes about their relationship. When Laura uses her family’s magic to create a golem she calls “Nown,” her relationship with the creature further reflects her need for parental guidance and for a love whose strength and motives she needn’t question.

prayer_for_owen_meanyDan Needham

     A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

Actually step-father to main character John, Dan is one of only a few positives in John’s life. Also, there’s a bit about a taxidermied armadillo which I always found quite endearing.

anne_of_green_gablesMatthew Cuthbert

     Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

Anne’s adoptive father (raising her with his sister Marilla), Matthew is a painfully shy man, but also the most consistent source of unconditional love in Anne’s life (as well as the one who ends up getting her the puffed sleeves she’s always wanted). Richard Farnsworth plays Matthew brilliantly in the television adaptation and a particular scene between him and Anne remains the most likely moment to make me cry in all of literature and film.


     Sabriel by Garth Nix

As the only ‘good’ necromancer, Abhorsen is responsible for keeping the dead where they belong. But when he goes missing, his only daughter, Sabriel, must head across the wall into the Old Kingdom, where Charter Magic, not technology, keeps the land in order. She must use all her father has taught her in order to stop the rise of a powerful sinister force.

While Abhorsen is often an absentee father, he manages to instil Sabriel with skills and strength that allow her to protect both herself and those around her. Through Abhorsen, she becomes truly capable.

Liz Gillett


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