What have we learned about Albert's father in War Horse? What are his virtues and vices?

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Albert's father—we never get to know his name—is a difficult character to like. A man who seems to exist in a permanent state of drunkenness, he's not exactly a prime candidate for Father of the Year. As well as being a chronic alcoholic, Albert's dad is also pretty irresponsible when...

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Albert's father—we never get to know his name—is a difficult character to like. A man who seems to exist in a permanent state of drunkenness, he's not exactly a prime candidate for Father of the Year. As well as being a chronic alcoholic, Albert's dad is also pretty irresponsible when it comes to finances. He's the one who sells the eponymous war horse Joey to the military for the sum of forty pounds, money that we can be sure will end up being frittered away on booze.

It's not surprising that Albert's father sold the horse when you consider how badly he always treated the poor creature. He was forever whipping him and threatening to shoot him if he didn't do as he was told (which was often). For Albert's dad, horses are stupid, obstinate creatures, which is about as clear an example of the pot calling the kettle black that you're ever likely to find.

But we shouldn't be too harsh on Albert's dad. After all, he did have the presence of mind to buy Joey in the first place. And he also shows a remarkable capacity to change. He regrets selling Joey and eventually gets cleaned up, which is no mean achievement. And in his determination for Albert not to grow up to be like his father, he shows an admirable understanding of his own shortcomings, both as a man and as a parent.

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