Flyboys

by

Tobias Wolff

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Ivan Character Analysis

Ivan is Freddy’s stepfather. In the story, Ivan often gets the family into trouble, engaging in foolish money-making attempts or illegally dumping garbage. He is not always brave, either—he runs away when Tanker dies, and he has been known to shirk responsibility. He fails his family, but he is never ill-intentioned, and he always comes back. The narrator sees Ivan as a screw-up, not recognizing how deeply Ivan cares for his stepsons and engages meaningfully with their friends. While Ivan may not be a model for success or stability, he is the only present father in the story.

Ivan Quotes in Flyboys

The Flyboys quotes below are all either spoken by Ivan or refer to Ivan. 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:
Fear of Emotion Theme Icon
).
Flyboys Quotes

This was a very unlucky family. Bats took over their attic. Their cars laid transmissions like eggs. They got caught switching license plates and dumping garbage illegally and owing back taxes, or at least Ivan did. Ivan was Freddy’s stepfather and a world of bad luck all by himself. He wasn’t vicious or evil, just full of cute ideas that got him in trouble and make things even worse than they already were…Tanker was the only one who could stand up to Ivan, and not just because he was bigger and more competent. Ivan had a soft spot for him. After the accident he took to his bed for almost a week, then vanished.

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), Ivan, Tanker
Related Symbols: Mud
Page Number: 150
Explanation and Analysis:

“Past her prime—has been for years.”

“Yessir,” Freddy said. “She’s long in the tooth and that’s a fact.”

“Ready for the pasture,” I said.

“Over the hill,” Freddy said.

“That’s it exactly,” Ivan said. “I just can’t bring myself to sell her.” His jaw started quaking and I thought with horror that he was about to cry. But he didn’t. He caught his lower lip under his teeth, sucked it musingly, and pushed it out again.

Related Characters: Ivan (speaker), Freddy (speaker), Narrator (speaker), Tanker
Related Symbols: Mud
Page Number: 153
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Flyboys LitChart as a printable PDF.
Flyboys PDF

Ivan Character Timeline in Flyboys

The timeline below shows where the character Ivan appears in Flyboys. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Flyboys
Family and Class Theme Icon
...Freddy’s family as deeply unlucky. They have experienced bat infestations and chronic car issues, and Ivan, Freddy’s stepfather, is always caught when he dumps garbage illegally or forgets to pay back... (full context)
Fear of Emotion Theme Icon
Family and Class Theme Icon
After Tanker’s death, the house lost its joy. It became quiet and empty, even after Ivan returned. Freddy’s mother stayed home in the dark all day, and when she made the... (full context)
Family and Class Theme Icon
Imagination, Rationality, and Escape Theme Icon
Ivan then enters the kitchen, interrupting the narrator’s story. He, like everything else in the house,... (full context)
Fear of Emotion Theme Icon
Imagination, Rationality, and Escape Theme Icon
All three boys follow Ivan outside and consider the dilemma of Tanker’s old, beat-up pickup truck stuck in the mud.... (full context)
Fear of Emotion Theme Icon
Family and Class Theme Icon
Imagination, Rationality, and Escape Theme Icon
Ivan instructs them to empty out the truck bed, which is full of logs from the... (full context)
Family and Class Theme Icon
Imagination, Rationality, and Escape Theme Icon
Ivan believes emptying the logs will be enough to get the vehicle out, but Clark disagrees.... (full context)
Fear of Emotion Theme Icon
Family and Class Theme Icon
Imagination, Rationality, and Escape Theme Icon
...other two boys. Once they finish engineering the trenches, the three of them push while Ivan starts the truck. (full context)
Family and Class Theme Icon
Imagination, Rationality, and Escape Theme Icon
...they spin, covering Clark and Freddy while the narrator misses a majority of the spray. Ivan rocks the truck back and forth. The exhaust fumes make the narrator’s eyes burn, and... (full context)