When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years. ~Mark Twain

Fathers in literature range from the strong, classic hero of Atticus Finch to the unsavory, brutal father of Pat Conroy’s childhood reflected in all of his works.  They can be supportive or infuriating, kind or abusive.  In honor of Father’s Day here is a look at some of the most memorable fathers from some of the greatest books written:

Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird) – the model father, brave, loyal, kind.  A plethora of fatherly wisdom can be attributed to him, including “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Mr. Bennett (Pride and Prejudice) – flawed but devoted to his daughters, generous and a lover of life.

The Father (The Road) – Cormac McCarthy’s father figure does everything possible to keep his son alive in a barren wasteland.

Jean Valjean (Les Miserables) – while not Cosette’s biological father, Valjean is the ultimate man of virtue and conscience.

Thomas Schell (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close) – Oskar loses his father in 9/11, but his memory lives on due to their loving relationship.

T.S. Garp (The World According to Garp) – John Irving’s Garp overcomes a most unusual upbringing to become a devoted father.

Here are some more recent examples of books with father themes:

Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy

Dinner for Two by Mike Gayle

The Precious One by Marisa de los Santos

All of Us and Everything by Bridget Asher