An American Childhood

Father (Frank Doak) Character Analysis

Annie’s father is also similar to many upper- and upper-middle-class Pittsburgh men: he works in business, believes in hard work, and his politics are somewhat conservative. He is logical and thoughtful, though he can also be silly and goofy: he joins in Mother’s comedy routines with glee. At certain points, he seems to dream about a different kind of life for himself, particularly when he sets off on a boat down the Ohio River. He also gets involved in a low-budget horror movie production, which shows his unorthodox creative streak that sets him apart from many of his colleagues and friends. Still, his restlessness never rises to the level of Annie’s desires to leave Pittsburgh and devour entirely new spheres of knowledge.

Father (Frank Doak) Quotes in An American Childhood

The An American Childhood quotes below are all either spoken by Father (Frank Doak) or refer to Father (Frank Doak) . 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:
The Interior Life  Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Harper & Row edition of An American Childhood published in 1989.
Part Two Quotes

I had essentially been handed my own life. In subsequent years my parents would praise my drawings and poems, and supply me with books, art supplies, and sports equipment, and listen to my troubles and enthusiasms, and supervise my hours, and discuss and inform, but they would not get involved with my detective work, nor hear about my reading, nor inquire about my homework or term papers or exams, nor visit the salamanders I caught, nor listen to me play the piano, nor attend my field hockey games, nor fuss over my insect collection with me, or my poetry collection or stamp collection or rock collection. My days and nights were my own to plan and fill.

Related Characters: Annie Dillard (Annie Doak) (speaker), Mother, Father (Frank Doak)
Page Number: 149
Explanation and Analysis:
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Part Three Quotes

I was growing and thinning, as if pulled. I was getting angry, as if pushed. I morally disapproved most things in North America, and blamed my innocent parents for them. My feelings deepened and lingered. The swift moods of early childhood—each formed by and suited to its occasion—vanished. Now feelings lasted so long they left stains. They arose from nowhere, like winds or waves, and battered at me or engulfed me.

Related Characters: Annie Dillard (Annie Doak) (speaker), Mother, Father (Frank Doak)
Page Number: 222
Explanation and Analysis:
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Father (Frank Doak) Character Timeline in An American Childhood

The timeline below shows where the character Father (Frank Doak) appears in An American Childhood. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue
Family, Authority, and Institutions Theme Icon
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In 1955, when Annie was ten, her father, an executive in the family firm of American Standard, was inspired by a book called... (full context)
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When Annie’s parents met, Frank Doak was an only child, a lapsed Presbyterian, and a Republican, with an artistic sensibility. He’d... (full context)
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The morning Annie was reading Kidnapped, her father wandered through the house listening to jazz and snapping his figures. A week later he... (full context)
Part One
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...lying on, but her mother didn’t seem interested. She also noticed the hair on her father’s arms and legs, pulling at it until he said “ouch.” And at the beach she... (full context)
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...marveling how her mother transformed from a napping housewife into a figure of beauty. Her father was taller than everyone else. Annie didn’t think the parties sounded like much fun: she... (full context)
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In 1950 there was a big snowstorm, requiring Father to walk four miles with a sled to carry back milk. The family had a... (full context)
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...in the alley while she was digging under a poplar. She showed it to her father, who read the date, 1919, and said it might be valuable. He explained that soil... (full context)
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...children the technical and theoretical aspects of it and often practicing or analyzing pacing. Annie’s father was particularly a fan of stories set in bars with zoo animals or insects. He... (full context)
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...earlier. This performance was appealing to Mother because of how risky it was—she and Annie’s father were both sensitive to the potential failure of humor. They also appreciated practical jokes: one... (full context)
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Dillard moves on to discussing her father’s parents, with whom Amy and she dined each Friday night for years. Her grandfather, Frank... (full context)
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Oma’s grandfather had arrived in Louisville, Kentucky from Germany in 1848 and opened a brass foundry that... (full context)
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...a new private school, she sat on the porch reading Kidnapped (this was as her father was preparing to leave on his boat). The book took place in Scotland, and she... (full context)
Part Two
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Annie began to draw in earnest while her father was boating down the river. At a neighbor’s house she found a book called The... (full context)
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...obscure: she never expected to meet anyone else who’d read the same things she had. Father sometimes raised his eyebrows at a title of a book she was clutching, but she... (full context)
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When Father returned from his sailing trip, he became the business manager of a small company that... (full context)
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...it. During the tornado, Mother had gathered Amy and Molly away from the windows, while Father and Annie ran over to the windows to watch. (full context)
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One Sunday afternoon Mother entered the kitchen where Father was listening to the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game: she heard, “Terwilliger bunts one!” (Terwilliger being... (full context)
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...no one was looking. At bridge she’d show her hand or bid wild amounts, driving Father crazy. (full context)
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...found a yellow swallowtail, a large beautiful butterfly: she wanted to show it to her father, but as she ran over to him she tripped and her fingers tore through the... (full context)
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...that Annie got a microscope and traveled to Paw Paw was also the year her grandfather died. She was a bit put out not to be able to attend an upper-school... (full context)
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Years earlier, before Father sold his boat, he used to take Annie out on the Allegheny River. They stopped... (full context)
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Now, nine years later, Father picked Annie and Amy up from church and, back home in the kitchen, began to... (full context)
Part Three
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Annie read hoping to learn everything and to be able to combine her father’s logical mind with her mother’s imagination and energy. Still, the books were pushing her away... (full context)
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Annie soon quit the church by writing a strongly worded letter to the minister. Father came to Annie’s room (something that increasingly drove her crazy) to ask her about the... (full context)
Epilogue
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...in a household of comedians, a childhood filled with books. Perhaps it was because her father left to go down the Ohio River one day that Annie always equated living with... (full context)
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Father instructed the children that true American culture was Dixieland, and then jazz. It was a... (full context)
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They danced a lot in Annie’s house, and Father always reminded the children of a line in Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, when the... (full context)