Grit

by

Angela Duckworth

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Duckworth’s Father Character Analysis

Angela Duckworth’s father was a chemist who proudly spent more than 30 years working for the chemical company DuPont after migrating from China to the U.S. His ideas about work, passion, and genius are relatively conventional, but they strongly contrast with Duckworth’s research findings. For instance, he believed that people’s success depends on their inborn talent, while Duckworth found that it depends more on grit. He also believed that young people should ignore their personal interests and choose stable, prestigious careers, while Duckworth has found that people are more likely to succeed when they follow their interests.

Duckworth’s Father Quotes in Grit

The Grit quotes below are all either spoken by Duckworth’s Father or refer to Duckworth’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:
Passion, Perseverance, and Success Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scribner edition of Grit published in 2018.
Preface Quotes

There was about a month between the MacArthur call and its official announcement. Apart from my husband, I wasn’t permitted to tell anyone. That gave me time to ponder the irony of the situation. A girl who is told repeatedly that she’s no genius ends up winning an award for being one. The award goes to her because she has discovered that what we eventually accomplish may depend more on our passion and perseverance than on our innate talent. She has by then amassed degrees from some pretty tough schools, but in the third grade, she didn’t test high enough for the gifted and talented program. Her parents are Chinese immigrants, but she didn’t get lectured on the salvation of hard work. Against stereotype, she can’t play a note of piano or violin.

Related Characters: Angela Duckworth (speaker), Duckworth’s Father
Related Symbols: Genius
Page Number: x
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 13: Conclusion Quotes

“You’re no genius,” my dad used to say when I was just a little girl. I realize now he was talking to himself as much as he was talking to me.

If you define genius as being able to accomplish great things in life without effort, then he was right: I’m no genius, and neither is he.

But if, instead, you define genius as working toward excellence, ceaselessly, with every element of your being—then, in fact, my dad is a genius, and so am I, and so is Coates, and, if you’re willing, so are you.

Related Characters: Angela Duckworth (speaker), Duckworth’s Father (speaker), Ta-Nehisi Coates
Related Symbols: Genius
Page Number: 277
Explanation and Analysis:
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Duckworth’s Father Character Timeline in Grit

The timeline below shows where the character Duckworth’s Father appears in Grit. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Preface
Passion, Perseverance, and Success Theme Icon
Developing Grit Theme Icon
Psychology and Human Development Theme Icon
Grit and Society Theme Icon
Angela Duckworth remembers how, when she was young, her father constantly talked about “genius.” He worried that she wouldn’t succeed because she didn’t have enough... (full context)
Chapter 6: Interest
Passion, Perseverance, and Success Theme Icon
Developing Grit Theme Icon
...hears versions of “I love what I do.” In contrast, when Duckworth was growing up, her father encouraged her to choose a prestigious, stable career—not to do what she loved. In fact,... (full context)
Chapter 13: Conclusion
Passion, Perseverance, and Success Theme Icon
Developing Grit Theme Icon
Psychology and Human Development Theme Icon
When Duckworth’s father called Duckworth “no genius,” he wrongly thought that genius meant succeeding effortlessly. But nobody can... (full context)