Sunday, June 18, 2017

Fantastic Fathers (and Where to Find Them) of Literature

A few years ago (and by a few, I mean forever), I did a post about my favorite mothers of literature. There weren't many at the time, and since then, I've probably found a few more I could add to the list. But since it's Father's Day today, I'm not going to talk about my favorite mothers of literature; instead, I'm going to talk about my favorite fathers of literature. So without further ado, in no particulate order, here are ten fantastic fathers (and where to find them).

1. Mr. Betarrini from the River of Time series: Mr. Betarrini (whose first name I think is Ben?) isn't in the River of Time books a whole lot. Mainly because he spends the first two dead. (Weird, right?) But when he finally does show up due to this awesome thing called time-travel, he's pretty cool. He can fight, he's smart, and he cares a lot about his daughters. I like him.

2. George Stacy from Spider-Gwen: One of my favorite aspects of the Spider-Gwen comics is Gwen's relationship with her father, George. He cares an awful lot about his daughter, but that doesn't automatically mean their relationship is perfect. They struggle a lot trying to understand each other, but their love for one another trumps any other confusion or feelings they might have. Their relationship is realistic and touching, and I am grateful it exists in the comic book vein.

3. Elrond from Lord of the Rings: Sometimes I feel Elrond gets a bad rap. He's the stone-faced elf that won't allow his daughter to marry her one true love, right? (Or is that just the movie version?) But I think his concern for his daughter is admirable; he doesn't want to leave her behind, to be alone, to be sad. He's old; he knows the world. He's heard of Beren and Luthien and other elves, and he understands what it means for an elf to stay behind. Plus, Elrond is super wise and knowledgeable. He deserves more credit as a father.

4. Mr. Murry from A Wrinkle in Time: After recently re-reading A Wrinkle in Time, I realized how much I adore Mr. Murry. Like George Stacy, he's not perfect and his relationship with his family isn't perfect. He may be smart, but he still makes mistakes. When Meg finally finds him, she expects everything to become better, to be magically fixed, but it doesn't. This portrayal shows a realistic side of parents that I think more books need to include. Plus, in the face of adversary, strife, and despair, Mr. Murry is always optimistic and hopeful, pointing toward the good that still exists. If that's not admirable, I don't know what is.

5. Mr. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice: Who doesn't love Mr. Bennet? Sure, he may seem to slip away from his family and ignore his wife's mutterings, but when they need him the most, he steps up. His most famous moment is when he tells Elizabeth she doesn't have to marry Mr. Collins. Secretly, I think it's because he doesn't want his daughter to end up like him: in a loveless marriage. Or maybe he just loves to give Elizabeth her way.

6. Pa Ingalls from the Little House books: Growing up, Charles Ingalls was like a second father to me. I spent hours reading the Little House books, traveling all across the Midwest with the Ingalls family. Charles is a hard-working, entertaining, and ornery father that raises Laura to be the same. From playing violin and singing songs to building log cabins and harvesting crops, Pa Ingalls is a honorable man, worthy to be recognized.

7. Hans Hubermann from The Book Thief: Hans Hubermann isn't Liesel's biological father, but he's definitely her papa. He's a quiet man, known for his kindness and accordion playing that cheers people up. It's no wonder he finds a way to warm Liesel's heart in The Book Thief. I get teary-eyed just thinking about their relationship and the way the story progresses. He's admirable for his actions, whether it was teaching Liesel to read or hiding Max from the Nazis or simply walking the street playing his music.

8. Matthew Cubert from Anne of Green Gables: Like Hans, Matthew Cubert isn't Anne Shirley's biological father, but he's the closest thing she has to a father. Matthew is quiet, does his work, and obeys his sister. But he also learns to open up, just a little, to the spunky red-haired girl that invades his life. It's Matthew that convinces Marilla to give Anne a chance, and it's Matthew that spoils Anne because he wants her to be happy. Matthew is a soft, kind soul, and I can't help but cry at how wonderful a father he is.

9. Jean Valjean from Les Mis: Jean Valjean is a complex character. He takes in Cosette simply because he made a promise to a woman he met once, maybe twice. But he cares for Cosette as if he were his own daughter, and so she becomes his own daughter. He wants to keep her safe, from his past and from others, and he will do whatever it takes to do that... even entering a barricade battle to save the life of the man she loves so they can be together. Now that's noble.

10. Theoden from Lord of the Rings: Theoden's son dies early on in The Two Towers, but Theoden is still a father to both Eomer and Eowyn, his nephew and niece. It's his relationship with Eowyn though that makes him a fantastic father. He cares for her, wanting to protect her from the darkness of the world. He forbids her to fight because he wants to keep her safe from the atrocities of battle. In the end, by she avenging his death, she learns the reality of war. In addition, Theoden has a great redemption story; he was under the influence of Grima and Saruman, completely lost to the world, but he was able to come back from that and become a better king--and father.

Bonus: Sirius, Remus, Dumbledore, etc. from Harry Potter: It'd be hard to have a list of fantastic fathers (and where to find them) without including all the father figures of Harry Potter. From James Potter, who is Harry's actual father, and his sacrifice to save his wife and child to everything Sirius, Remus, and Dumbledore to do help Harry along his journey, the Harry Potter books are filled with fantastic father figures. Even Arthur Weasley is a wonderful, loving father-figure to Harry, welcoming him into the Burrow and taking him on wild adventures to Quidditch games and the Ministry of Magic. if given the chance to spend more time with these father-figures, I think their influence on Harry's life would only grown stronger and for the better.

Who are you favorite fathers of literature?

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