Father’s Day is almost upon us! Whether you’re planning to celebrate your father, grandfather, husband, or another great guy who’s made a difference in your life, we’ve compiled a list of seven memorable fathers from literature. Not all of these men prove the old adage “father knows best”…but they did all make a mark on the lives of their children, as well as readers. And if you’re still shopping for a perfect Father’s Day gift, the Bas Bleu bookshelves are filled with options!
Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird: Harper Lee’s famous novel is not without its shortcomings, but as fathers go, Atticus Finch sets a high bar. As a single father in 1930s Alabama, Atticus is already unusual…and that’s before the attorney agrees to represent Tom Robinson, a Black man falsely accused of raping a white woman. Atticus knows Tom’s chances of receiving justice from a white, Southern jury are slim. But while Atticus makes his choice because he is a man of principle, he also knows his actions will shape the development of his children’s morality. He’s constantly reminding Scout and Jem about the importance of fairness, empathy—for Tom, of course, but also for Boo Radley, Mrs. Dubose, even Bob Ewell—and courage. As Scout tells us, “It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived.”
Mr. Bennet, Pride and Prejudice: One of Jane Austen’s greatest literary skills was creating characters who were rarely all good or all bad. Case in point: Elizabeth Bennet’s father. In the early chapters of Austen’s beloved novel, the Bennet family patriarch is the epitome of a hen-packed male: Isolated in a house filled with five daughters and one very high-maintenance wife, with no son to inherit his estate or look after the womenfolk after his death (only Mr. Collins—ugh!). Mr. Bennet longs to live out his remaining years in his library. His sarcastic, sometimes mean-spirited wit reveals a man who is by turns bored, frustrated, and disappointed with life. But when scandal strikes the family, he leaps into action, knowing all too well that one daughter’s foolish choice could damn all of her sisters to misery. And though his favorite daughter chooses to marry a wealthy man, Mr. Bennet can’t celebrate the match until he’s assured of Elizabeth’s happiness.
Pap Finn, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: As fathers go, Pap Finn has no redeeming value: He’s an alcoholic whose parenting method is to beat his son for wanting an education. Pap drifts in and out of Huck’s life so frequently that the boy is placed in the care of the Widow Douglas…until Huck and his friend Tom Sawyer come into a little money. Then Pap turns up like a bad penny, sniffing out a payday. When Huck refuses, Pap imprisons the boy in his cabin in the woods. Huck sneaks away, joining forces with an escaped slave named Jim to make their way down the Mississippi. It’s this life-changing journey that forces Huck to decide who he wants to be: A violent, selfish criminal like Pap? Or a man of principle who values the lives and freedoms of others?
Vernon Dursley, Albus Dumbledore, and Arthur Weasley, The Harry Potter series: The Boy Who Lived was famously orphaned as a baby, when his parents were killed by Voldemort. Though Harry grew up without his biological father, James, he didn’t lack male role models…some worse than others. His uncle Vernon helped raise him after his parents’ deaths, treating Harry with contempt throughout his childhood. It wasn’t until Harry escaped to Hogwarts that he met his true father figures: Arthur Weasley and Albus Dumbledore. Dad to Harry’s best friend, Ron, Mr. Weasley happily welcomed Harry into his large, rowdy clan, offering him the loyal, loving family the boy longed for. Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore recognized Harry’s importance to the battle of good vs. evil. But while he mentored him in the fight against Voldemort, Dumbledore endeavored to shape and guide Harry’s character as well. Proof positive that a genetic link isn’t necessary to be a father to a child.
Otto Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl: Unlike the other fathers on this list, Otto Frank was a real person, not a fictional creation. We meet him through the eyes and words of his youngest daughter, Anne, whose personal diary chronicled the two years their Jewish family spent in hiding during World War II. In 1944, the Franks and their neighbors were discovered, arrested and deported to Auschwitz. Only Otto survived. In 1945, family friend Miep Gies gave him Anne’s salvaged diary, telling him, “This is the legacy of your daughter Anne.” Two years later, Otto Frank published an abridged version of the diary as The Secret Annex, fulfilling his late daughter’s dream of becoming a published writer. Thanks to her father, Anne’s voice and spirit live on, touching the lives of millions of readers around the world.
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