I have a great dad. I hope you do, too.
So many of the values I carry with me come from behaviors and beliefs my father modeled. My dad taught me to be respectful, tolerant, and curious. He taught me to enjoy doing hard things, to set high expectations for myself and not settle for less than my personal best. He also modeled patience, but I’m not sure that one stuck.
I’ll write more about my dad in a later post. Tonight, I am thinking about great dads in literature. These are the dads we get to adopt from our reading. Aspirational dads who offer enduring examples of what it means to be a father.
Here’s the start:
- Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird — He’s a obvious choice, I realize, but there is really no better example of a dad who is calm, rational and able to use the experiences of everyday life to create lasting moral lessons. Atticus is an exemplar for his kids. They don’t, of course, realize how special he is until they get some distance. When my daughter was born, a friend gave me a paperback copy of To Kill a Mockingbird wrapped in a homemade cover that read A Gentleman’s to Fatherhood. She was right.
- Oskar Schell’s dad in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close — We never meet Oskar’s father. He dies in the World Trade Center collapse before the book begins. Still, the memory of his father’s life and the trauma of his loss motivate Oskar on a quest of discovery that brings him into greater awareness of the world and how it really works. Our fathers set us on paths to become the people the world needs us to be.
- The dad in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road — The world we knew is gone, destroyed by war and nuclear winter. Civilization has collapsed. The survivors are crazed, amoral cannibals bent on destruction disguised as survival. The father shephards his son on a walk across the country in hopes of finding some better life. There is no reason to believe they will find it but the father keeps them alive, moving forward and, above all, protects the innocence and hope in his son because he knows his son is going to need that hope to help build a new world. In the event of nuclear catastrophe or zombie apocalypse, this is the kind of dad I hope I could be.
That’s my start. Let’s make this a team sport. What dads from literature inspire you?