Authored by Douglas Mefford in Comics and Literature
Published on 11-30-2009
The bond between father and child can have long reaching repercussions on the character of a growing youth. We often look to literature for examples of the traits that best show how fathers should deal with teaching life’s lessons to their offspring. They demonstrate the depths of duty and devotion a father should extend to the advancement of his children.
From the plays of Shakespeare we can view a rare father. Prospero, from “The Tempest” is a single dad. He still manages to not only raise his daughter, Miranda, in a pleasant home but provides a worthwhile suitor to take care of her into adulthood. In a similar way Jor-El, faced with the destruction of his entire planet, Krypton, finds a way to save his son. Although it means abandoning him to the care of strange beings on another planet, Jor-El sends his son Kal-El to Earth with his love and instructions about his origins and the honorable standards of his birth world.
Being a great father sometimes requires doing what is right even if it may be years before your children understand you had to take an honorable, if unpopular route. The small town lawyer, Atticus Finch, subjects his daughter to the entire town’s ridicule as he seeks to provide a fair trail for a man unjustly accused in the novel “To Kill a Mockingbird.” As a demonstration of honorableness and morality, Mr. Finch stands as true to great fatherhood as any man is able.
Sometimes the most supportive thing a father can do to help his children grow is to show patience and tolerance as they experiment with making their own decisions. Taken from the cartoons of Charles Addams – the patriarch of the Addams family, Gomez, shows nothing but love to his children Wednesday and Pugsley even when they are at their most mischievous. Regardless of how strange life can be, he shows them consistency in actions and close family values.
In a similar vein, Commander Samuel Vimes of the Ankh Morpork City Nightwatch, from Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series is devoted to the premise that one must take the time for one’s family. Quality time is important and there are no good excuses for not giving that time to his son. Even the most heinous crimes of the largest city on his world will not prevent him from doing the daily reading of his son’s favorite, and well-chewed, storybook.
Life and duty does not always afford a father all the time he would like for his son. Sometimes many of life’s lessons must be delegated to trusted aids. Taken from the pages of Frank Herbert’s epic novel, “Dune,” the Duke Leto Atreides must rule an entire planet and deal with the politics of a galactic empire. He still attempts to teach his son the importance of duty and to take a stand against tyranny and oppression. Even when going knowingly to his death on the desert planet of Arrakis, Leto demonstrates for his son, Paul, that to live as an honorable man one must sometimes also die as one.