He was a photographer in World War 1, who received an award for his work when it was over. He lost his right eye during his service.
He was happily married to a woman who sent him letters over the course of his time in the army. She had difficulty in bringing their first child, Lily, into the world. According to the doctor, she would be capable of birthing their second. Unfortunately, she died in giving birth to James, something the Father held against his son ever since.
The Father was both verbally and physically abusive towards his children.
Act 4 shows in a number of symbolic sequences that reveal Lily was sexually assaulted by her father, probably more than once.
At least two things throughout the game point to the Father.
One is a portrait of a man that is drawn over with horns, with only one black-hole of an eye visible - a reference to his missing eye. The painting can be seen multiple times, most notably placed behind the mannequin in the Se7en sequence in Act 4, in the room representing Pride. A stuffed bear is laying on top of the mannequin that is spread over the bed. If the bear is lifted from it, Lily's scream can be heard.
Another symbol of the Father is a mannequin that has its arms up in a flexing position. It is first shown at the end of the basement section in Act 3, and then reappears multiple times in Act 4. It is shown standing on top of a cage, with another mannequin writhing underneath it (Lily being trapped and sexually abused by him), and can also be seen hanging from the ceiling - a bag over its head - in a room where the player must touch fruit around the room in order to trigger her voice, yelling at James for not protecting her from 'this monster.' Near the end of the Act, Lily is seen in an homage to Psycho, stabbing this particular mannequin until it falls to the ground.
The end of Act 3 has a man with an enlarged head and tiny limbs in a wheelchair, crying, "It hurts!" over and over. He speaks with the same voice as the father, which makes it clear this man represents him. His appearance is also extremely similar to Brain Big Brain from The Hills Have Eyes, keeping in line with the games references to famous films. This could mean Lily managed to paralyze her father after attacking him, and left him alone when she and James escaped to the ship.
The Cyclops in Act 3 has been confirmed to symbolize the Father.
Character Study Edit
A study of his character was posted on the Layers of Fear 2 twitter account. This is the additional information it shared:
"Those of you who have completed Act 3 know that the volatile relationship manifests an angry Cyclops as the image of their father, in the kids eyes."
"Badly wounded in WW1, the father returns home traumatized. Losing his wife while giving birth to his son, he finds himself alone. Haunted by memories of war, loss, and a failed career, he becomes increasingly hostile towards his children. The nightmares, hallucinations, and heavy drinking led to a workplace accident, costing him his job. He would often regret the volatile relationship with his children during his brief moments of sobriety, and dream of being an artist, photographer or filmmaker."