The Boys in the Boat

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The father of Joe Rantz, Harry Rantz is a complicated figure. He has a major influence on his son Joe’s development: Joe seems to inherit his curiosity and love for learning from his father, a talented mechanic and inventor. However, Harry is also an unpredictable, often senseless man, who refuses to commit to anything he doesn't want to do. After the death of his first wife, Joe’s father abandons Joe, then marries Thula LaFollette, and then abandons Joe again. Harry’s negligence as a father is perhaps the most important reason why Joe grows up learning to take care of himself—Joe learns not to rely on his father for food, shelter, or love.

Harry Rantz Quotes in The Boys in the Boat

The The Boys in the Boat quotes below are all either spoken by Harry Rantz or refer to Harry Rantz. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Teamwork and Trust Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Books edition of The Boys in the Boat published in 2014.
Chapter 12 Quotes

Joe and Joyce took the four children out for ice cream and then stopped by a grocery store and bought some basic provisions before dropping them off back at the house. By the next day, when Joe checked, Harry and Thula had returned. But Joe couldn't fathom what his father and Thula had been thinking. Apparently this had been going on all summer long.

Related Characters: Joe Rantz, Joyce Simdars, Harry Rantz, Thula LaFollette (Rantz)
Page Number: 210
Explanation and Analysis:

As Joe worked his way through college, he faced considerable adversity from his own family. Joe had been taking care of himself for many years, but during his junior year, he began to realize that he had to take care of his half-siblings as well. Joe’s father, Harry Rantz, and his stepmother, Thula LaFollette, were horrible parents—sometimes, they’d leave their children alone for days at a time, without enough food to go around. Joe and his girlfriend, Joyce Simdars, then took care of Joe’s half-siblings whenever they could.

Although Joe was much younger than his father or stepmother, he was a far more responsible person, as this passage clearly shows: he knew how to take care of people in need, whereas his biological father always prioritized his own needs before those of other people. With so many family responsibilities to deal with, Joe’s rowing suffered: he couldn’t concentrate on winning, and still struggled to work well with his teammates.

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Harry Rantz Character Timeline in The Boys in the Boat

The timeline below shows where the character Harry Rantz appears in The Boys in the Boat. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
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Joe Rantz was the second son of Harry Rantz and Nellie Maxwell. Harry was an intelligent man who’d been inspired by the Wright... (full context)
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...was now living and working. Fred had married a woman named Thelma LaFollette. Shortly afterwards, Harry returned from Canada and married Thelma’s sister, Thula LaFollette, even though he was seventeen years... (full context)
Teamwork and Trust Theme Icon
...Joe and Thula didn’t get along—eventually, Thula became so furious with Joe that she told Harry he’d have to choose between his wife and his son. Harry informed Joe, just ten... (full context)
Chapter 4
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In November 1924, Thula Rantz was in labor, and Harry, her husband, set off to fetch a doctor. He did, but it took all night,... (full context)
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...resented Joe and disliked his friends. One morning, she accidentally poured hot bacon grease on Harry Junior, burning his chest. He spent weeks in the hospital and had to miss a... (full context)
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...farm. He foraged for mushrooms and fished for salmon with the help of his friend Harry Secor. He also sold moonshine, which he bought from bootleggers (at the time, Prohibition was... (full context)
Chapter 8
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...game warden hit him over the head with a piece of driftwood. Joe’s old friend, Harry Secor, chased after the warden, but the warden got away. The “jig was up”—Joe and... (full context)
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...“live up to its implications.” Around the same time, Joe found out from Fred that Harry, Thula, and his half siblings were living in Seattle. Harry had moved his family to... (full context)
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In the fall of 1934, Joe tried to reunite with Harry, Thula, and his half siblings. When he and Joyce went to Harry’s house, Thula answered... (full context)
Chapter 9
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...played the guitar for Joyce. The next day, Joe traveled out to visit his father. Harry hadn’t seen Joe in almost six years, and he seemed nervous about having to talk... (full context)
Chapter 12
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...to cook for them—a task she knew nothing about. Joe and Joyce also learned that Harry and Thula had taken to leaving their children at home for days without enough food.... (full context)
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...really liked his stepmother, but she’d been an important part of his life. Joe told Harry that he was sorry for his loss, and then they talked about Thula’s life for... (full context)
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On December 2, Harry acquired property near his son Fred’s house, and began building a house with his own... (full context)
Chapter 13
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...that is far beyond anything you’ve ever imagined.” One weekend, Joe drove Joyce to visit Harry at Harry’s new house. There, Joyce immediately felt sympathetic for Harry’s other children, who now... (full context)
Chapter 18
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Back in Seattle, in Harry’s house, Joe’s half-siblings cheered with delight at the news coming from the radio. Joyce, who... (full context)
Epilogue
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Joe returned to Seattle in September, and began living in a room of the house Harry had built; then, a few days later, he returned to trying to make some money... (full context)