Historical fiction; national bildungsroman


Anonymous and omniscient. The narrative voice is ambiguous. Perhaps it is the little boy at a later point; perhaps it is Tateh's little girl; perhaps it is both of them.

Point of view 

This novel is narrated in the third person omniscient; occasionally the narrator speaks in the first person plural.


Ironic, rhetorical


Past and present

Setting (time) 

From 1900 to 1917

Setting (place) 

New York City; New Rochelle, New York; Lawrence, Massachusetts; the pyramids of Egypt


The role of the protagonist is shared by all the main characters.

Major conflict 

Coalhouse Walker attempts to execute a revolution, while Father and his family react to the changing times.

Rising action 

Father's voyage to the North Pole; Conklin's damage of Coalhouse Walker's car


Coalhouse's seizure of the Morgan residence

Falling action 

Coalhouse's death


In the first chapter, the description of Father's family in New Rochelle has a certain tentative, precarious quality that foreshadows he subsequent shocks they will experience.