Pa had very llittle formal schooling when he was growing up - "jist readin', writin', and cipherin'." - and doesn't understand the need for anything more when the story begins. He is a hard worker and expects the same from Dave; they both need to put in many hours of hard physical labor to work the farm. However, Pa does realize the importance of education and has made the decision that Dave should be allowed to attend high school instead of dropping out to help on the farm. "I'm tryin' to make a scholar out'n Dave. He's the only one out'n eleven youngins I've sent to high school."
By the end of the story, Pa has demonstrated other qualities. He is willing to learn and is willing to admit that his ways are not always correct. He requires proof, in the form of personal experience before he will accept new information or ideas, but he is open to belief when evidence is presented. "School has changed from my day and time. I'm a dead leaf, Dave. I'm behind. I don't belong here."
Pa is tenderhearted and caring toward the animals and people he cares about.
I jist don't want to see you kill the black snake. I never kill one. They are good mousers and a lot o' help to us on the farm..."Pa with a gun in his pocket but a tender heart beneath his ribs for snakes, but not for man! Pa won't whip a mule at home. He won't whip his cattle.
And Pa is honest and expects Dave to be the same. When a debt needs to be paid, you do what is necessary to pay it.
If he'll let me I'll get a broom and we'll both sweep one hour. That pays your debt. I'll hep you pay it...since I understand he must pay his debt fer th' tree and I'm goin' to hep 'im.