The father is not an alcoholic (on this they agree, and, yet, this is a topic of conversation, and later he observes that she likes drinking cheap Ontario wine).
Rhoda is seeing an Irish man who has four children and no money and he is white, entirely white. Somehow the emphasis here matters, although this might be less significant than the father’s open judgement that she should set aside that relationship.
“She had given a serious answer to what she thought was a serious question. Our conversations were always like this – collisions.”
So the tension holds meaning. But it’s even more significant that the father is commenting on his daughter’s connection to a family man as though he has a position in her life which affords him the role of advisor. As though his understanding of being a family man and his understanding of his daughter is solid enough upon which to base personal advice.
His open criticism of the man (“Playing house, a Peter-and-Wendy game. a life he would never dare try at home.) and his sense that Rhoda would be better off single: it’s a bit nervy, to say the least.
And he, too, is aware of this position, of the tentative nature of his role here.
“What I needed now was someone who knew nothing about me and would never measure me against a promise or a past. I blamed myself, not for anything I had said but for having remembered too late what Rhoda was like.”
But he cannot see past the idea that Rhoda is nine years old, more heavily influenced by her mother, with whom she lives, and indeed, now a grown woman, who might not be interested in playing “Peter-and-Wendy” with anyone but, were she to choose someone, that she is unlikely to choose a parent who has been largely absent from her life.