What was Godfrey's view on his father's child-rearing methods in Silas Marner?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The answer to your question lies in Chapter 9. Godfrey's attitude about his father's methods of raising children can hardly be called complimentary. Basically, Godfrey doesn't think his father has any genuine interest in his sons at all; he views his father as an oppressive and antagonistic paternal figure, whose only concern is his money and his social reputation.

The exchange between Godfrey and Squire Cass in this chapter is laden with conflict. Godfrey finds himself in the difficult position of explaining that he has given Fowler's rent to Dunsey, his brother. Because of his ill-placed trust in Dunsey, Godfrey now finds himself in debt to his father. Meanwhile, Squire Cass is apoplectic when he hears that Godfrey had given the money to Dunsey. Godfrey admits that he tried to sell his horse, Wildfire, in order to come up with the rent money. However, with Wildfire's untimely death, he now has no means of securing the hundred pounds.

For his part, Squire Cass proclaims that he will turn Dunsey out of his home for embarrassing him. He orders Godfrey to bring Dunsey before him. However, Godfrey doesn't know where Dunsey is and answers meekly that his brother will be back in due time. Squire Cass isn't satisfied with his answer, and he accuses Godfrey of colluding with Dunsey to rob him of his money. Squire Cass also opines that Godfrey must have bribed Dunsey to keep silent about what happened to the rent money.

Squire Cass complains that he's been too good a father to both his sons and that they have taken advantage of his leniency. However, Godfrey thinks otherwise. He doesn't believe his father's so-called indulgence has been kindness at all, but rather a result of his characteristic indolence (laziness). In Godfrey's mind, Squire Cass views his sons as hostile rivals.

On one hand, Squire Cass expects Godfrey to help him manage his extensive properties, but on the other hand, he balks at any effort on Godfrey's part to comply. Godfrey explains sadly that his father always feels threatened by his efforts. For his part, Squire Cass refuses to admit he is largely responsible for the conflict-ridden relationship he has with his sons. So, Godfrey's attitude to his father's method of raising children is one of resignation, disappointment, and regret. He wishes that his father had been a better parent.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial