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Fathers in the juvies 
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Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:53 am
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Post Fathers in the juvies
RAH in the juveniles didn't use a lot of father figures.
Those of us who read the biography understand why fathers might not stand real high in Heinlein's pantheon; but, really, there are many works for juveniles from various sources in which fathers do not play a great part. Many juvenile adventures produced by Disney follow this pattern. The Hardy Boys have a strong dad, but he's rarely around.
This kind of makes sense, since how can you have a boy or girl adventure hero whose dad or mom steps in at the critical moment and saves the day?
Nevertheless, I thought it might be fun, at least, to see how parents are treated in each of the juvenile novels. (Excluding the Puddin' series.)
This is going to be long-winded, so if you've got something that needs to be done, go ahead and do it. If you're like me and have no life, go ahead and read.

Rocket Ship Galileo: None of the fathers of the three protagonists make much of a showing, though Dr. Cargreaves makes a credible stand-in.
Space Cadet: Our hero is pretty much on his own, though Dad does drop some good, fatherly advice on him, then disappears.
Red Planet: The two teen heroes live with their families, but circumstances force them to rely on themselves. Dad resurfaces in the last half of the story, but doesn't always display strong character. Remember that Doc has to shivvy him into actually fighting a revolution.
Between Planets: Parents nowhere to be seen, and in fact, there are no father figures. The strongest character in the book is a teenage girl.
The Rolling Stones: There are plenty of parental types about, but during at least one section, Mom and Dad are gone; Grandma is the strongest character in the book. Cas and Pol are often ineffective, but then, they're also the comic foils.
Farmer in the Sky: Dad's around, all right, and he's not quite a milquetoast, but Billy still has to rely mostly on himself. There is a strong mother figure that makes a brief appearance. A neighbor also supplies a good example as a father.
Starman Jones: Dad died long ago, and Mom isn't even Max's genetic mom. Max has relied on himself for a long time.
The Star Beast: No Dad here, though Johnny is plagued by the ghosts of all those namesakes in his past, one of them, the Liberator of Mars, apparently a very strong figure. Mom is useless, except as a foil, and again, the strongest characters in the book are a teenage girl and an adolescent female alien.
Tunnel in the Sky: When Rod is with his family, Dad doesn't stand for much of an example, although he is not scorned by the author. When Rod is away, ain't no kinda Dad in sight. Again, young or teen females are among the strongest characters: Rod's sister and Carolyn (who by the way is one of my favorite Heinlein characters). (Side note: I always thought Tunnel in the Sky was written by Heinlein as an antidote to Lord of the Flies, published one year earlier, which I would think Heinlein would have hated. Anyone know better?)
Time for the Stars: For most of the book, no Dad, though he offers our hero some decent, wordly wisdom in the first chapter.
Citizen of the Galaxy: Whoa, father figures galore. But let's go chronological: Parents wiped out, Thorby has to stand alone, and does. Then there's Pop, the strongest father figure in the whole canon. Then there's the Captain, a strong figure, but ruled by an even stronger one: Grandmother. Then there's no father figure. Then what's-her-name's father steps into the picture, and he's an evil character. Again, the young woman what's-her-name appears to be a stronger character, at least initially, than Thorby.
Have Space Suit -- Will Travel: A really strong father here, but who sort of steps back in a wise fashion; and of course who should take his place but a mother figure?
Starship Troopers: There's a Dad, all right, and he's a wrong 'un (until redeemed in the last chapter). There's the history and moral philosopy teacher, but he's really more of an uncle figure, and off to the side. Johnny has to grow up and rely on himself.
Podkayne of Mars: Yep, there's a Dad, and what a goof ball he is. Even Mom doesn't look to good. Uncle is the strongest male figure, if you don't count Clark.
Then, of course, there are the adult novels, in which fathers, ironically, fare better. Hugh Farnham is probably the strongest father in Heinlein. Then there's Dad in The Puppet Masters, father figure Jubal in Stranger, and we could probably name others. Those folks are balanced by Manny's father in Harsh Mistress -- he's just some guy Manny likes to have a beer with occasionally (Mum is the strong character, and she's not even Manny's mum). The father of the hero of Glory Road has the bad grace to die before our story starts. Again, you can probably name more examples: Talk among yourselves.
OK, I ran out of steam, and I apologize if I bored you, or if you thought this was trite.


Sun Mar 25, 2012 5:35 pm
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Post Re: Fathers in the juvies
holmesiv wrote:
Hugh Farnham is probably the strongest father in Heinlein.


If you judge a father's strength by how his kids turned out, I'm not sure I agree with this statement.


Sun Mar 25, 2012 9:26 pm
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Post Re: Fathers in the juvies
BillMullins wrote:
holmesiv wrote:
Hugh Farnham is probably the strongest father in Heinlein.


If you judge a father's strength by how his kids turned out, I'm not sure I agree with this statement.


You could be right, at that. But the daughter turned out to be the ultimate Heinlein heroine, dying in childbirth -- sacrificing herself (reluctantly, sure) carrying on the (human) race. She was also willing to overcome a prejudice in order to have children -- marrying Joe would not have been a choice for her back in the old world, but she was willing to overcome her prejudice in order to further the race. Her values were good, at least after the bomb.
The son we can write off because he'd always been closer to his mother.
Have we any doubt that Hugh's twins would have turned out all right?
But if you can't accept Hugh, I offer Pop as a candidate, non-genetic father that he is.
(Now that I think of it, I might have offered Hugh because as an adult, I was surprised at how much more I like this book than when I first read it as a 21-year-old. Yeah, that probably swayed my thinking in Hugh's favor. Let's go with Pop.)


Mon Mar 26, 2012 1:14 pm
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Post Re: Fathers in the juvies
Col. Baslim was a good father, all right.

But there are also a bunch of others -- including Lazarus Long himself in the Tale of the Adopted Daughter.


Mon Apr 02, 2012 3:12 pm
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Post Re: Fathers in the juvies
With Lazarus Long, though, I think the focus was on a good husband rather than a good father, although he was presented as both.

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Mon Apr 02, 2012 8:11 pm
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Post Re: Fathers in the juvies
Whatever neo-Freudian road you might be musing along in this thinkage, keep in mind that juvenile/YAs in general and Heinlein exemplars thereof in particular are almost always bildungsroman... novels of maturation. I can't think of a good way to write a coming-of-age story with strong parents in the picture. Even strong parents who have done an exemplary job of raising the protagonist have to fade into the woodwork at the crucial 'time of trial' that these novels usually represent.

You could still make a case that Heinlein had something against father figures (as does Spielberg, in spades and diamonds), but not from the backgrounding of parental figures in the juvies. IMHO. In many of them, a good part of the 'maturation' is the child finally understanding the messages, the guidance and the influence of his parents. (Even Podkayne could be seen as the same thing in reverse... she realizes her parents were weak, distracted and worthless.)

You mention that other juveniles have stronger parent figures... name a few, especially any you can think of in which the parents figure prominently in the maturation or trial of the protagonist. I can't think of any offhand; even if the parents are front and center early on, they are removed from the action when it's time for the protagonist to meet his or her test.

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Sat Apr 07, 2012 10:08 am
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Post Re: Fathers in the juvies
Right. It's practically a requirement of a juvenile that parents should be absent. Heck, my 2 yr-old's favorite show "Max and Ruby" is about two sibling rabbits age 7 and 4 and while they have a grandmother next door they have no parents visible or implied.

If anything, Heinlein was more anti-mother IMHO. John Thomas Stuart's mother is a purblind priss. And Grace Farnham is exhibits B thru M.


Sat Apr 07, 2012 4:09 pm
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Post Re: Fathers in the juvies
[
You mention that other juveniles have stronger parent figures... name a few, especially any you can think of in which the parents figure prominently in the maturation or trial of the protagonist. I can't think of any offhand; even if the parents are front and center early on, they are removed from the action when it's time for the protagonist to meet his or her test.[/quote]


Jim Marlowe's father seems to kinda-sorta meet your criteria.


Sat Apr 07, 2012 5:05 pm
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Post Re: Fathers in the juvies
Steve Richards wrote:
[
You mention that other juveniles have stronger parent figures... name a few, especially any you can think of in which the parents figure prominently in the maturation or trial of the protagonist. I can't think of any offhand; even if the parents are front and center early on, they are removed from the action when it's time for the protagonist to meet his or her test.



Jim Marlowe's father seems to kinda-sorta meet your criteria.[/quote]

I dunno. He's a responsible man, but he has to be pushed along by Doc.
As far as strong fathers go, Roger Stone would be a good example.


Thu Apr 12, 2012 5:43 pm
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