Study Guide

Truitt Bradshaw in Jacob Have I Loved

By Katherine Paterson

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Truitt Bradshaw

Louise's father is a true Rass waterman, and he ends up teaching Louise everything he knows, even though she's just a lowly girl. The guy is a big time worker, and his family really only ever sees him at dinnertime because he's out from dawn until dusk hunting down crabs and oysters to earn money to put food on the table. That's one devoted dad.

Truitt was born on the island but left to serve in World War I. When he came back, he was injured, and his hometown sweetheart had married someone else. Truitt was never one to feel sorry for himself, though, so he kept on working away until he eventually bought his own boat and married a pretty schoolteacher in town. Yup, things definitely started looking up for him.

When you think about it, Louise's father actually has a lot to be bitter about. He barely scrapes by as a waterman; he has two daughters and no sons to help him on his boat; he has got a mother whose favorite pastime is spitting nasty Bible verses at everyone in the household. It's a lot to deal with, but Louise's father never feels bad for himself or resents the cards he's been dealt. Instead, he just plays the hand he has. Louise could learn a lot from this guy.

Fortunately, she does. When Louise gets older and starts helping her father on his boat, she discovers all kinds of new things about him:

Who would have believed that my father sang while tonging? My quiet, unassuming father, whose voice could hardly be heard in church, stood there in his oilskins, his rubber-gloved hands on his tongs, and sang to the oysters. It was a wonderful sound, deep and pure. He knew the Methodist hymnbook by heart. "The crabs now, they don't crave music, but oysters," he explained shyly, "there's nothing they favor more than a purty tune." And he would serenade the oysters of Chesapeake Bay with the hymns the brothers Wesley had written to bring sinners to repentance and praise. (15.43)

Sure, Louise and her father have always been close, but she starts to see a different side of him. Heck, maybe this is where Caroline's musical know-how comes from. No one knows about it except Louise, though, which is pretty darn special for her.

In the end, Louise chooses a new hometown to work in because it shares her father's name. She names her son after him, too. Louise has to put up with a lot growing up, but her dad is definitely one of the people who teaches her it's okay to let go and live your own life.

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