Lab Girl

by

Hope Jahren

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Jahren’s Father Character Analysis

Jahren’s father is the source of her first experiences in science: she spent nearly every evening of her childhood in her father’s science lab, at the local community college where he worked. He let her play with all of the supplies and instruments in the lab, and she helped him set up for the next day’s class. Afterwards, they would lock up the building, walking down the empty hallways in a way that made young Jahren feel like she owned the place. They would then walk home in silence—Jahren notes that being silent was what her family did best. Her father had grown up in the small town in southern Minnesota, and had taught science to students who would eventually become the teacher’s in Jahren’s school. After she leaves home to attend the University of Minnesota, Jahren does not mention her father again, except for a vague reference to a phone call about the death of her favorite tree; she also mentions that no one attended her graduation when she received her doctorate. While he was an inspiration for Jahren as a young girl, her father does not seem to have played a big part of her life as an adult.

Jahren’s Father Quotes in Lab Girl

The Lab Girl quotes below are all either spoken by Jahren’s Father or refer to Jahren’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:
Life Cycles Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Knopf edition of Lab Girl published in 2016.
Part 1: Roots and Leaves Quotes

As much as I desperately wanted to be like my father, I knew that I was meant to be an extension of my indestructible mother: a do-over to make real the life that she deserved and should have had. I left high school a year early to take a scholarship at the University of Minnesota—the same school that my mother, father, and all of my brothers had attended.

Related Symbols: Minnesota
Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:
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Jahren’s Father Character Timeline in Lab Girl

The timeline below shows where the character Jahren’s Father appears in Lab Girl. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1: Roots and Leaves
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Demystification of Science Theme Icon
Jahren spends her evenings in her father ’s laboratory, playing with the scientific instruments she finds in the drawers. She particularly likes... (full context)
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Jahren and her father walk home every night at 8 P.M. through the frozen landscape of small-town southern Minnesota,... (full context)
Life Cycles Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
...miles south of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Jahren’s town is the home of the community college where her father would go on to work for 42 years. Most of the people in town have... (full context)
Life Cycles Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
...the city of Saint Paul, which left promptly at 8:23 P.M. every night. Jahren and her father can often hear the train leaving the station from the other side of town as... (full context)
Women and Science Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Every night when Jahren and her father get home, Jahren’s mother is always in the kitchen, unloading the dishwasher loudly, signaling a... (full context)
Women and Science Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
...point, she understood that it was her destiny to have her own lab, just as her father had. Her work in science reminded her of her joyful evenings as a child playing... (full context)
Women and Science Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Demystification of Science Theme Icon
...important work—where she pursues “the noble breakthrough”—and an extension of the fun she had in her father ’s lab as a girl. She also notes that her lab is a place where... (full context)
Part 3: Flowers and Fruit
Women and Science Theme Icon
Mental Illness and Treatment Theme Icon
...boy, and he will be blonde with blue eyes, like his father. He will have Jahren’s father ’s name, and will hate her for being an unfit mother. She eats and sleeps,... (full context)