The re­luc­tant role model

Friday - - Wanted -

Will in About a Boy by Nick Hornby Cyn­i­cal Will stum­bles on his role as a proxy fa­ther while at­tend­ing a sin­gle par­ents’ sup­port group – a rouse he uses as a way to meet po­ten­tial fe­male friends. A 36-yearold layabout, Will has never had to work a day in his life, and his days are full of shal­low, su­per­fi­cial pur­suits. Un­til he meets Mar­cus, that is. The un­worldly 12-year-old quickly dis­cov­ers the truth about Will’s sup­posed sin­gled par­ent­hood, but keeps it a se­cret so Will stays on his side. In re­turn Will teaches Mar­cus about train­ers, trends and bands, be­com­ing a re­luc­tant men­tor in the process. Un­en­thu­si­as­tic as he be­gins, Will evolves into a pretty cool fa­ther fig­ure to the boy and they teach each other a lot in the process.

The ne­glect­ful nurturer

Mr Worm­wood in Matilda by Roald Dahl Roald Dahl’s oeu­vre is full of pos­i­tive pa­ter­nal role mod­els, from the kindly dad in Char­lie and the Choco­late Fac­tory, to the gen­tle gi­ant in The BFG. But the dim-wit­ted MrWorm­wood, fa­ther of Matilda, is noth­ing of the sort. A crooked sec­ond-hand-car sales­man, he’s boor­ish and blind to his daugh­ter’s many gifts. The lonely Matilda seeks so­lace in the form of her teacher, Miss Honey, and ex­acts re­venge on her dad with a range of pranks, such as pour­ing Su­per­glue into his hat. When Matilda’s par­ents are forced to run from the po­lice be­cause of her fa­ther’s un­der­hand au­to­mo­tive deal­ings, they give her per­mis­sion to stay with Miss Honey and the two live happily ever af­ter.

The crim­i­nal carer

Fa­gin in Oliver Twist by Charles Dick­ens He’s not re­ally a fa­ther, but the grotesque Fa­gin is the only pa­ter­nal fig­ure that the poor or­phans in Oliver Twist have. A das­tardly vil­lain, Fa­gin re­cruits un­for­tu­nate chil­dren to be­come pick­pock­ets in ex­change for food and shel­ter, car­ing less for their wel­fare than he does about them not ‘peach­ing’ on him and his crim­i­nal ring. Nev­er­the­less, the treat­ment Oliver re­ceives while in the thiev­ing en­clave is bet­ter than he did at the baby farm and, per­verse as it is, fel­low chil­dren such as Jack Dawkins, aka the Art­ful Dodger, have great re­spect for the ad­vice of the old man. Dick­ens knew what he was talk­ing about – he took the name Fa­gin from a friend he’d known when he worked at a boot-black­ing fac­tory in his child­hood and based the char­ac­ter on Ikey Solomon, a crim­i­nal at the cen­tre of a highly pub­li­cised ar­rest, es­cape, re­cap­ture, and trial in Vic­to­rian Lon­don.

Hugh Grant and Nicholas Hoult star in

About a Boy

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