Silas Marner Questions and Answers
by George Eliot

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In Silas Marner, what are the weaknesses as a father of Squire Cass?

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Squire Cass acts as a foil to Silas Marner in the novel. While Silas is an outcast who is gradually rebuilding his life after being falsely accused of theft, Squire Cass is a member of the gentry, well-off and powerful in the village. Silas turns out to be a wonderful single father, doting on Eppie, protective of her, and willing to sacrifice everything for her good and her happiness. Perhaps his best characteristic as a father is the sheer love and joy he feels towards Eppie, something that helps her grow into a happy and kind young woman.

Squire Cass alternates between indifference and harshness toward his sons. He does not seem particularly concerned about their happiness and does not really put much effort into instilling morality in them. There is no sense of love or trust in the family. Godfrey does not reveal his marriage to Molly to his father, and Dunsey does not discuss his financial difficulties with his father. Squire Cass does not seem interested in talking with or understanding his children. He is prone to anger and, rather than attempting to cure the character faults of his sons, simply lashes out angrily at them when they get into trouble.

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A prominent Raveloe landowner, Squire Cass does not parent his sons in a consistent manner. For the most part, he is lenient and neglectful, frequenting the Rainbow where he socializes and provides his opinions there, but when his ire is raised, he is obstinate and unyielding. These traits cause the tenants on his land and his two sons to fear his wrath.

With a sense of superiority that is far out of proportion because he lives in the rural community where there is no one superior to him in social class, Squire Cass becomes excessively self-assured, and autocratic. Yet, he is rarely reproached even though "his sons had turned out rather ill." Nevertheless, one condition for which Squire Cass is criticized is the fact that "he had kept his sons at home in idleness" and they were not assigned any jobs on his land to oversee. And, because they are idle, the find themselves in trouble. Both Godfrey and Dunstan drink too much, in addition, Godfrey has married a lower class woman who is an addict and mother of his child, and Dunstan gambles and finds himself in debt. But, their father does not really know what and with whom his sons are involved.

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