In this piece, Hawthorne foreshadows the fate of the Major Molineux throughout the piece. Even if the reader does not pick up on the exact details of what happens to the Mayor ( like on page 294, “the smell of tar…”) on the first read, the reader still senses a disturbance that makes them want to continue on with the story and re-read it again to see the hints that are obvious to the reader after they learn of Major Molineux’s fate.
This story, though dark, is a coming of age story. We have young Robin, who is naive, but still sure of himself. When he comes into the city, he thinks that the citizens would be glad to help him unite with his uncle, but when people either laugh at him or dismiss him, he becomes angry and thinks like a child would think; to want to do physical harm. “Oh, if I had one of theses grinning rascals in the woods, where I and my oak sapling grew up together, I would teach him that my arm is heavy…” At the end of the story, Robin has to choose to grow up and be independent or get on the ferry and go back to the farm. When Robin first came to the town, he thought that it would be an easy transition for him to fully grow up because he thought he would be respected because of Mayor Molineux’s status, but at the end of the story, he wants to return to his rural life. At the end, the gentleman says ” as you are a shrewd youth, you may rise in the world, without the help of your kinsman.” The audience does not know what Robin chooses to do, but what do people think? Do you think that he will go back or make a new life for himself? Personally, I believe that he will stay in the town and make a life for himself because when we spoke about the American dream in class, we said that the American dream was that if you worked hard, you could achieve what you want, so in becoming independent, Robin can be respected and have a good life.
The part in this story that really sticks out to me is when Robin laughs. Did that shock anyone else? I’ll admit, when I read this story the first time, I thought Robin had gone insane, but upon reading it a second time, I came up with two explanations to why he did this and I really want to know if anyone either agrees or if anyone has a different interpretation.
1. He laughed because he was shocked. For some people, when presented with anger or fear, the laugh out of nerves. It would make sense because, after all, the people he saw in the mob were carting around his tarred relative. Also, the fact that “Robin’s knees shook, and his hair bristled with a mixture of pity and terror,” shows that he was physically shocked by what happened to his kinsman.
2. He is trying not to look like a sympathizer. Right before Robin laughs, he sees all of the townspeople that he asked for the where about of his kinsman, Mayor Molineux. So, they all know that Robin and the now tarred Mayor know each other, and in order to not get tarred himself, “Robin’s shout was the loudest.”
Why do people think that Hawthorne chose to include the beginning paragraph? Why do people think of the double-faced man?