Shades of Gray

by Carolyn Reeder

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Student Question

What is the name of Will's father in Shades of Gray?

Quick answer:

The reader never learns the specific name of Will’s father in Shades of Gray. Will’s last name is Page, so it is safe to assume that his father’s last name was Page as well. Will’s father died fighting for the Confederate Army in the American Civil War. Meg confuses Doc Martin for Will’s father, but Doc Martin is a family friend who looks out for Will after Will's biological father dies.

Expert Answers

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In the beginning of Shades of Gray, Doc Martin is taking Will to his aunt and uncle’s house. The reader learns that Will’s mother asked Doc Martin to do this years ago, before she died. Will’s mother told Doc that after she was gone, if anything happened to Will’s father too, that Doc should bring Will to her sister’s house. The reader then learns that Will’s father has been killed in battle by the “Yankees” (2).

Yankee was a slang term used by Southerners to refer to Northerners during the American Civil War. This tells the reader that Will’s father died fighting in the Confederate Army. The narrator doesn’t tell the reader much more about Will’s father, although it is clear Will is proud of how he bravely fought for his beliefs. Will also mentions, in a conversation with his cousin Meg, that his family used to own slaves. Meg is shocked to learn this about Will’s parents, but Will stresses that his family treated his slaves well (11).

Meg also mistakes Doc Martin for Will’s father at first. This is a bit foretelling, because Doc Martin eventually writes to Will and invites him to come live with him, saying that he could raise him as his own son. Will does not end up going, but this shows that Doc Martin tried to become a father figure in Will's life.

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