Papa's Parrot Questions and Answers
by Cynthia Rylant

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Why does Mr. Tillian buy Rocky in "Papa's Parrot"?

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In Cynthia Rylant's short story "Papa's Parrot", Mr. Tillian is the owner of a candy and nut shop. When his son, Harry, is young, he always visits the shop after school and many of his friends come too. Mr. Tillian enjoys their company and looks forward to seeing them every day. As Harry grows up, he and his friends are no longer so fond of candy and stop frequenting the shop. They go to a burger bar or play computer games instead. Other children come to buy candy, but this is not the same, since Harry is not there and the other children do not stop to talk to Mr. Tillian. He becomes lonely and decides he needs a pet.

Mr. Tillian therefore buys Rocky the parrot to keep him company in his shop. The two of them watch television together and, as time passes, Mr. Tillian talks more to Rocky and less to the people around him, including his son, who begins to feel neglected. It is only later that Harry realizes his father has been talking to the parrot about him and how much Mr. Tillian misses him.

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