[LMB] Bothari as a father

Elizabeth Holden alzurite at gmail.com
Sat Oct 30 16:37:21 BST 2021

I argued that Bothari was not a good father. Gwynne makes the case for his
being a good father.


> Gwynne: Judging from our viewpoint, and with the advantage of hindsight,
> all that you say is true.

I was imagining myself in Elena's place at various ages. Sure, with
hindsight, we have read her side of the story as an adult. But being her -
I wouldn't have wanted her upbringing from the point of view of any age.

> But within his own society, he was doing the best he
> could.

Yes. A former schizophrenic in a militaristic and patriarchal society. One
who had no parenting himself, who was abused when young. Given his
handicaps and his background, he did a great job, being both true to
himself and doing his best for her. But it still wasn't "good" parenting by
any of the ways I would measure "good".

I don't think it was best for her. I also think a more insightful father
would have seen that, and a father who truly cared would have adapted, and
adjusted, in a way that made her less unhappy. I don't think adapting was
among Bothari's medical/social skills. I think Cordelia's influence on him
in this regard was wonderful - but I don't think she meddled with his

> Bastards are usually abandoned or disowned on Barrayar; Bothari didn't
> do that.

No. He did his duty, and he loved her. I think he needed that love for its
own sake - something that was his, and his responsibility alone. Sort of
like owning a kitten. Even if we look at the situation in terms of
protecting her from predatory men, he seems to have done a poor job of
that, too, given her troubles with Ivan.

> He saved every mark for his daughter. He supported her, gave her a
> good home, he made plans for her future. He wanted the highest he could
> for her, which in his society and in his eyes was to marry an officer.

I agree that he did his best by his own estimation. I think all of the
above was emotionally important to him, for his own sense of worth and
duty. I don't think that qualifies him as a good father - unless maybe in
his own eyes. He was living in a world that was already changing. He saved
every mark - not for her, but for her dowry; not her education, or a
purpose she cared about.

> This wasn't her dream (although she sort of did do that, in the end).

In her own way! Her choice, not his.

> But he was dedicated
> to giving her a good future, even if his choice - by our standards -
wasn't the
> right one.

He gave her far better than he had himself. I don't think he ever saw her
as she really was, or listened to her side of things. And I think that's
important in a parent, especially a single one.

>  And you're right that he may not have been affectionate, by our
> standards, but you can't give what you don't have.

My point exactly.

Bothari was actually a far better bodyguard than he was a father, and his
relationship with Miles was far better than his relationship with Elena -
because it wasn't part of his mandate to control Miles' life,  just to keep
him safe.


Elizabeth Holden <azurite at azurite.ca>

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