39 pages 1 hour read

Ruth Stiles Gannett

My Father's Dragon

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 1948

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Symbols & Motifs

Airplanes and Flying

Elmer confides that when he grows up, he wants to have an airplane. The airplane and the power of flight it confers represent Elmer’s desire to explore the unknown and his wish to discover new things. Elmer’s eagerness to fly reveals several of Elmer’s personality traits: his curiosity, optimism, open-mindedness, and longing for adventure. An airplane would fulfill these desires, giving Elmer the freedom to fly wherever he wants to go, and see the world. A plane would allow Elmer to break limits and expand his horizons. Elmer tells the cat: “I’d do anything if I could fly” (3), showing the strength of his desire. Elmer leaps at the cat’s offer to save the dragon, who could help him fly, even though the task is perilous and hard, as he is eager for adventure.


The knapsack that Elmer secretly borrows from his father for his trip reflects Elmer’s ingenuity. Elmer always has the knapsack with him and is always prepared. The pack holds everything he needs to succeed. Elmer quickly pulls out the exact item necessary to overcome each obstacle he encounters. Elmer’s pack and its contents reflect both Elmer’s practicality and inventiveness. He uses the knapsack for simple utility, to store his supplies, but the pack also holds elements that go beyond basic gear.