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The Spectacular Now

The Spectacular Now


by Tim Tharp

Mr. Keely

Character Analysis

Mr. Keely is Sutter's real dad. Sutter idealizes the guy, remembering all the good times they had as a family—but let's take a look at the facts. Mr. Keely

  • Cheated on his wife (repeatedly)
  • Abandoned his family
  • Bummed around aimlessly for years
  • Borrows money from his married girlfriend
  • Abandons his family again the first chance he gets—Sutter is so unimportant to him that he forgets he's even coming to visit, and then deserts him to chase after his girlfriend.

After finally meeting his dad, Sutter admits to Aimee that he was wrong all these years: "You saw what kind of guy my dad is – a big fat liar and cheater. The kind of dude that sheds his family like a snake sheds its skin. Are you sure I won't slither down that same rut?" (61.23).

If you ask us, Sutter is right to be worried. Mr. Keely is basically an older version of Sutter himself, living the high school party animal life … at middle age. Not cute.

The funny thing about his dad is that before Sutter knew where he was, he made up a story that he worked at the top of the Chase building in downtown Oklahoma City, and was too busy to visit. "See the Chase building over there, the tallest one?," he tells Aimee. "My dad's office is near the top. See that one lit window up there right in the middle? That's him, burning the old midnight oil." (7.49-51).

It's weird that he imagines his dad as a successful businessman, when he's so disdainful towards his stepdad and brother-in-law's wealth. Here's what we think: somewhere, deep down, Sutter still has hope that a carefree party boy can grow up and make something of himself.

He may be making up stories about his dad, but he's really dreaming about himself.