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Roy's family is comparatively ideal, and his parents are intelligent, reasonable, and supportive. When Roy has problems, he is unafraid to go to his parents for advice, and together they examine issues and help each other come to logical conclusions. Roy's parents discipline him when they think he has gotten seriously out of line, but they also listen to his side of things. Mostly, they trust their son to do the right thing, and allow him to experience life and work out his own difficulties as much as possible.
In contrast, Beatrice and Mullet Fingers' family is highly disfunctional. Beatrice's father is "a former professional basketball player with gimpy knees, a beer gut, and not much enthusiasm for steady work"; Beatrice had chosen to stay with him when he and her mother had divorced because "she doubted that...(he) could survive on his own". Two years after Beatrice's mother left him, Beatrice's father married Lonna, "a woman he met at a celebrity...golf tournament...one of the the waitresses in bathing suits who...serve(d) beer". At the wedding, Lonna brought along her son Mullet Fingers, who ran away as soon as the ceremony was over.
Lonna makes no effort to understand her son, and cannot control him. She once sent him away to military school to "normalize" him, but he promptly got expelled. Beatrice's father had made "a halfhearted attempt to bond" with Lonna's son, but Mullet Fingers "held no interest in (his stepfather's) prime passions - sports, junk food, and cable television, and spent all his free time roaming the woods and swamps". Mullet Fingers and Beatrice get little support from their parents, who are portrayed as shallow and self-absorbed, more immature than their children (Chapter 10).
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