Life with Father is both an affectionate account of a family and a lightly satirical study of a supremely self-satisfied man who sees himself as king in his castle, with his wife and children as servants. In return for catering to his every whim and endorsing all his views, they are lovingly treated, even cherished. Like Mother at the end of the book, the family members “almost believe” in Father’s kingship.

In a wider sense, the work is a study of a view of family and the concept of the head-of-family that owes greatly to the Victorian age; Father is surely the last of the pure Victorians. His anxiety lest women might earn the right to vote, wear bloomers, hold political opinions, or participate in business is clear. In general, Mother agrees with him, saving her energies for smaller victories. Clarence Day, Jr., the narrator, maintains a careful tone that lets the reader know that Day simultaneously loves and venerates his father while disagreeing with many of his views.

The technique whereby Day, as an adult, relates his youthful perceptions of his father allows him to see his father through two pairs of eyes. Each perception is realistic. The young Clarence gradually grows in his sense of his father as exaggerated. The younger Day’s ability to see Mother’s management of Father, for example, lets the reader realize that the son is keenly aware that Father is the last of a species. Brief references in the text to the...

(The entire section is 517 words.)