The three family relationships have significant similarities, they differ widely in success. In a way Portia's father is just as controlling as Shylock because he insists on choosing his daughter's husband from the grave. But Portia is one of the most strongest-minded characters in the play and respects his wishes while Jessica on the other hand betrays and abandons her father. Even though Launcelots father is affectionate, he is a satisfactory parent at best like Shylock they don't understand their children. Shylock the least successful parent and is a combination of the other two fathers worst characteristics without any of their positive ones. He is a dominant but he is oblivious and fails to show his daughter the love she needs. The message that arises from these three different relationships from The Merchant of Venice is that parental control is best combined with loving alarm and that a good parent not only loves and cares for their child but also knows and appreciates him or her. The bond between parent and child should contain more than responsibility, more than love, and even though both are significant it should also contain a healthy amount of knowledge and thoughtfulness.
Critics such as Elizabeth Freeman  and Nicole Seymour view the novel as "queer"—as challenging gender and sexual norms. In her article on the novel, Seymour argues that McCullers queers the human developmental schema (childhood-adolescence-adulthood) through various narrative methods. These methods include the novel's tripartite structure; its depiction of personal difficulties with narrativizing, "the refusal of dynamism, and the use of the literary devices of repetition and analepsis ." Seymour concludes that "the novel allows us to imagine an adolescent body in synchronic rather than diachronic terms - thereby challenging the ideals of sexuality, gender, and race that normally accrue to such bodies."