Cat’s Eye

by

Margaret Atwood

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Elaine’s Father Character Analysis

Elaine’s father, whose name is never shared. He works as an entomologist researching spruce budworms, but he wanted to be a pilot during World War II—his research was deemed essential to the war effort, however, so he was not allowed to sign up. He prefers the outdoors and loves working with his hands. He also loves talking about natural disasters over dinner, appearing to have an endless enthusiasm about the woes of the human race. He does not ascribe to organized religion. He also does not understand either of his children, and doubts Elaine’s decision to choose an impractical career as an artist. After Stephen dies, Elaine’s father seems to really fade until he dies of natural causes.

Elaine’s Father Quotes in Cat’s Eye

The Cat’s Eye quotes below are all either spoken by Elaine’s Father or refer to Elaine’s Father . 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:
Art, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Anchor Books edition of Cat’s Eye published in 1998.
Part 3 Quotes

“Remember this,” our father says. “This is a classic infestation. You won’t see an infestation like this again for a long time.” It’s the way I’ve heard people talk about forest fires, or the war: respect and wonderment mixed in with the sense of catastrophe.

Related Characters: Elaine Risley (speaker), Elaine’s Father (speaker)
Page Number: 72
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 5 Quotes

My father has eaten everything on his plate and is digging for more stuffing in the cavity of the turkey, which resembles a trussed, headless baby. It has thrown off its disguise as a meal and has revealed itself to me for what it is, a large dead bird. I’m eating a wing. It’s the wing of a tame turkey, the stupidest bird in the world, so stupid it can’t even fly any more. I am eating lost flight.

Related Characters: Elaine Risley (speaker), Elaine’s Father
Page Number: 145
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 8 Quotes

Knowing too much about other people puts you in their power, they have a claim on you, you are forced to understand their reasons for doing things and then you are weakened.

Related Characters: Elaine Risley (speaker), Elaine’s Father
Page Number: 240
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Cat’s Eye LitChart as a printable PDF.
Cat’s Eye PDF

Elaine’s Father Character Timeline in Cat’s Eye

The timeline below shows where the character Elaine’s Father appears in Cat’s Eye. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part Two: Silver Paper
Art, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
War vs. Environmental Catastrophe  Theme Icon
Time and Memory Theme Icon
...they moved to Toronto—her family had lived nomadically, moving from place to place for Elaine’s father’s research. The roads were mostly empty because of the war, and food was rationed. They... (full context)
Art, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
Gender and Cruelty Theme Icon
Identity and Conflict Theme Icon
Time and Memory Theme Icon
Elaine’s father now dresses in jackets and tweed for his job as a university professor, instead of... (full context)
Part Three: Empire Bloomers
Art, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
Gender and Cruelty Theme Icon
War vs. Environmental Catastrophe  Theme Icon
Identity and Conflict Theme Icon
Time and Memory Theme Icon
...of it as “an ancient artifact, like something dug up out of a tomb.” Their father changes from his city clothing into baggy pants and work boots while he investigates a... (full context)
Art, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
Gender and Cruelty Theme Icon
War vs. Environmental Catastrophe  Theme Icon
Identity and Conflict Theme Icon
Time and Memory Theme Icon
At dinner, Elaine’s father talks about the end of the world, inevitable with the atom bomb; only insects will... (full context)
Part Four: Deadly Nightshade
Art, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
Gender and Cruelty Theme Icon
War vs. Environmental Catastrophe  Theme Icon
Identity and Conflict Theme Icon
Time and Memory Theme Icon
...and had forced her to go to church whether she liked it or not; Elaine’s father says he “does not believe in brainwashing children” and thinks that religion is responsible for... (full context)
Part Five: Wringer
Art, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
Gender and Cruelty Theme Icon
Identity and Conflict Theme Icon
Time and Memory Theme Icon
...better if she keeps quiet, because she can’t remember saying anything different from usual. Elaine’s father walks into the room and asks the girls if they are enjoying the parade; afraid... (full context)
Art, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
Gender and Cruelty Theme Icon
War vs. Environmental Catastrophe  Theme Icon
Identity and Conflict Theme Icon
Time and Memory Theme Icon
...with him, but it gives her hope that he eventually ends up beloved and accepted—Elaine’s father dismisses him as a sign of commercialism. (full context)
Art, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
Gender and Cruelty Theme Icon
Identity and Conflict Theme Icon
Time and Memory Theme Icon
A student of Elaine’s father, Mr. Banerji, joins them at Christmas dinner, as it would be too far for him... (full context)
Art, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
...She divides everyone she knows into the categories of “tame” and “wild,” with her mother, father, and brother being wild along with Cordelia, but Grace and Carol fitting into the category... (full context)
Gender and Cruelty Theme Icon
Identity and Conflict Theme Icon
Time and Memory Theme Icon
...still goes home feeling like she has failed her, as well as herself and her father. However, she also spends all of the nickels she earned with this job on candy—licorice... (full context)
Part Six: Cat’s Eye
Art, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
Gender and Cruelty Theme Icon
Identity and Conflict Theme Icon
Time and Memory Theme Icon
...of a sudden when an ambulance comes in the middle of the night, and their father says that it was an accident—Stephen think she had a miscarriage. He was awake when... (full context)
Gender and Cruelty Theme Icon
Identity and Conflict Theme Icon
...was there. Elaine finds this much more frightening than the blood, and knows that her father is frightened too because he asks the children to help out more. Once her mother... (full context)
Art, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
Identity and Conflict Theme Icon
Time and Memory Theme Icon
Elaine goes to a Conversat with her father, Stephen, and his friend Danny. It’s like a museum, with lots of visitors and educational... (full context)
Part Eight: Half a Face
Gender and Cruelty Theme Icon
Identity and Conflict Theme Icon
Time and Memory Theme Icon
One Sunday, Elaine sits with her family while her father draws spruce budworms, and her mother makes sandwiches. Their house has gone through some changes—they... (full context)
Art, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
War vs. Environmental Catastrophe  Theme Icon
Identity and Conflict Theme Icon
...chess. Elaine brings them cookies on occasion, but is mostly left out. Now, when their father makes statements about the polar ice caps melting and the doomed fate of humanity, Stephen... (full context)
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War vs. Environmental Catastrophe  Theme Icon
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As an adult, Elaine now knows that her father wanted to be a pilot in the war, but was not allowed to do so,... (full context)
Part Nine: Leprosy
Art, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
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Time and Memory Theme Icon
Elaine’s father says that her sharp tongue will get her in trouble, but it doesn’t effectively tone... (full context)
Art, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
Gender and Cruelty Theme Icon
War vs. Environmental Catastrophe  Theme Icon
Identity and Conflict Theme Icon
Time and Memory Theme Icon
...Elaine’s house for help with her biology homework and stays for dinner. At dinner, Elaine’s father talks about the daily extinction of species, the poisoning of rivers, and inevitable epidemics in... (full context)
Part Ten: Life Drawing
Art, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
War vs. Environmental Catastrophe  Theme Icon
Identity and Conflict Theme Icon
Time and Memory Theme Icon
...and No Exit. Her mother finds the theater posters gloomy, but Elaine knows better. Her father finds her talent for drawing impressive but wasted, as she could have dedicated herself to... (full context)
Part Eleven: Falling Women
Art, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
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Elaine’s parents move up north—her father returns to research, and her mother misses the garden but clears out the house. Elaine... (full context)
Part Thirteen: Picoseconds
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Their parents never recover from Stephen’s death. Elaine’s father grows thinner and stiller, and he eventually dies of natural causes—her mother follows a year... (full context)