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Bookchums Theme: Father Figures in Literature

Post by: Manasi Kulkarni

For all the feminist talk and liberal ideas, it continues to be that we all crave for the fathers and father-figures in our lives. As kids, with our unprejudiced minds and in our ideology free worlds, we look up to our fathers with a different respect, an adoration that we do not grant our mothers.

The role of father -figures in a child's healthy mental development has long been recognized by science. The father-figures are found to lead to emotionally rounded and happier adults. Even when actual fathers are absent from daily lives, children continue to yearn for them and look for father-figures to fill up that gap in the men they meet. Uncles, grandfathers, friends' fathers, authors, could be just about anybody that the child looks up to.

The literary world is no stranger to this longing for father-figures, and they have figured prominently in many bestsellers for a long time now. These father-figures are to be found across genres from children's books to novels, and murder mysteries to non-fictional essays. The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish by Neil Gaiman is one such illustrated children's book that tells the story of a boy who swaps his 'uninvolved' father for goldfish he badly wants. It is a hilarious piece of work that also brings out the importance kids attach to the involvement of their fathers in their everyday lives.

One of the most famous books that creates a father-figure that not only the protagonist but many a readers look up to is the 1961 Pulitzer Winner, To Kill A Mocking Bird by Harper Lee. The father, Atticus, is a strong willed principled lawyer who is affectionate and present in his children's lives, and is not only a father, but also a friend to his motherless children. It is no wonder that many readers over the years have dreamt of a father like Atticus.

Then there are books like The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close that showcase two heartwarming father-son relationships, even in the death of the fathers.

There are many more of these and we shall explore them in various ways all through the week at Bookchums. Tell us your favorite father-figures in literature and we will feature those books on Bookchums as well.     


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