Question: Who's your favorite literary parent figure?
Chris says: Since I know who Stefanie's going to pick, I'll go a different route. Thomas Schell from Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Thomas was born in the middle of Eastern European chaos, never knew his own father, and achieved the American Dream in New York City. He instilled in his son Oskar some of my favorite qualities--curiosity, the desire for adventure, and unwavering perseverance. Even after his untimely death on 9/11, he is able to send his son on an adventure that has an impact on the whole family.
Honorable Mention Dads: Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird (no explanation required), Willy Loman from Death of a Salesman (he was different, but he had his own style), and Katniss' father from The Hunger Games (exists only in memories, but he made an impact)
Honorable Mention Moms: Molly Weasley from Harry Potter ("Not my daughter. . ."--EPIC!), Wendy Darling from Peter Pan (she becomes a mother to the Lost Boys), and Mrs. Bennet from Pride & Prejudice (not at all perfect, but she cracks me up!)
Stef says: Chris knows I love Atticus Finch. He's the ultimate single father in literature in my eyes, so choosing him is a given, but I've got to pick a mom too, right? I'm going to give the mother figure award to a character in a fairly recent not-really-teen novel - Aibileen Clark from The Help. I'm amazed by this woman's strength and her ability to always show love regardless of whether that love is returned. Aibileen, an African-American maid, has spent a lifetime raising white children, instilling in them genuine love and self respect only to have many of them grow up to treat her with the same disrespect and disdain as their parents. Yet, she refuses to become bitter or jaded with each new child she raises and continues to teach them her refrain - "You is kind. You is smart. You is important." (Cue the waterworks.) I greatly admire not only her bravery for telling her story but also for never letting those around her effect her capacity to pour out love to her "babies". Aibileen teaches us that the greatest parents show us unrequited love even when we may not deserve it.
Honorable mentions go to...1. Lily Potter (Harry Potter), whose life-giving sacrifice not only saved the life of her son but arguably the entire wizarding world. Plus she's a redhead. ;) 2. Miss Honey (Matilda), who sees a remarkable yet unloved little girl and turns her entire world upside down to adopt her and make sure she will always feel loved...not to mention instilling in her a love of reading! Extra points! 3. Mr. Bennet (Pride and Prejudice), who may be guilty of picking favorites and doing very little to stop his wife's crazy antics but who has one of the sweetest father-daughter moments in all of literature when he discusses Lizzy's proposal to Mr. Darcy with her in order to make sure his darling daughter is marrying for love and not money. Sigh. What a great dad...and he even ran off the creepy Mr. Collins too.