Frederick

Weak

Alec’s father, Frederick, is presented as weak in contrast to his wife’s domineering character. He rarely argues back.

Even when he makes his disagreement perfectly clear, Alicia still manages to get her own way in most matters.

She uses Alec to undermine her husband’s authority, such as when she refuses to send him to school as his father wishes.

His arguments are never taken into account, they are swept under the carpet as Alicia determines what happens in their house. His anger at her dismissive attitude can be seen at times in his “shaking” hands.

But he rarely voices it, perhaps having resigned himself to her control.

At one point he tells Alec “You do what your mother tells you, my boy. That’s the way …”

Whether he really agrees with what he says is arguable, but it suggests that he has given up and there is no fight left in him.

Even when it comes to the serious issue of Alec going off to war, Frederick’s strong feelings are ignored. He is against the idea, hoping that Alec will take over the family land and business.

He believes those who are pro-war are “Damn bloody fools” and makes his opinion clear, describing the young men who sign up as “Food for cannons”. But in the end he is too weak to stand up to his wife.

Her cruel emotional blackmail wears Alec down and Frederick loses his son to war.

Caring

As Alec gets older his father suggests that “Perhaps the time has come for us to get to know each other a little.” This shows that their relationship was distant when Alec was a small child.

Such situations were not uncommon - especially among upper class fathers and their children - in the early 20th century.

Because of Frederick’s suggestion - a sign that his father at least cares about his son - Alec grows closer to him.

Frederick teaches Alec how to manage the estate, buys him a beautiful horse and speaks frankly to him about how much he loves the land.

He is also shown to care about Alec’s welfare when he argues the case for sending him to school and not wanting him to go to war, even though he loses both these arguments.

He pleads with Alicia that he has given her “Everything that you have ever wanted” so that she must “Ponder deeply before you take away my son.” His desperation shows that he cannot bear to lose Alec to war.

He can’t express what he calls “Sentimentality”, but his gesture in giving money and his watch to Alec before he leaves expresses how much he cares.