English and Literature
Submitted By collinc
January 24, 2016
English 1302 Sec. 382
“Bartleby The Scrivener” Answers
1. In the first few paragraphs of the story the narrator describes himself as an elderly man. He grew up with an easy life and has become accustom to that lifestyle. Being an “elderly man” means he has gone through school and has become a well-educated man, with a job as an “unambitious lawyer”, that makes a good amount of money. With that money comes a certain arrogance about him when he compares himself to Jacob Astor. His language creates a sort of complexity to him that only he wants to understand himself and with the terms like “Imprimis” he could possibly be of Latin or Spanish decent. 2. The narrator introduces Turkey, and Nippers as copyists and a third, Ginger Nut, as an office boy. First described is Turkey. Turkey is a man that begins his day in harmony and finishes his day off in chaos. “In the morning, one might say, his face was of a fine florid hue, but after twelve o clock… it blazed like a grate full of Christmas coals”, Melville shows the polar opposites of Turkeys work ethic in the morning with the “florid hue” to the evening “blazing coals”, also comparing him to the sunrise and sunset. Next we have Nippers. Nippers was a man that was also a wreck at certain parts of the day, but luckily for the narrator Nippers and Turkey swapped craziness throughout the day as if it were clockwork. “There fits relieved each other like guards” explains the way the two copyists worked simultaneously. Nippers was also a man of good taste and according to the narrator a little to good of taste for a man making such a salary as a copyist. “The truth was, I suppose, that a man with so small an income, could not afford to sport such s lustrous face and a lustrous coat at one and the same time”. Finally the narrator introduces Ginger Nut, a boy at the age of twelve who’s father wanted to see more for his sons life than what was expected. Put in the office as an errand boy for Turkey and Nippers, he is a very straightforward person. Melville introduces them first in order to give the reader a feel for the office dynamics and to show how strange that Barlteby is. The narrator’s response to the three workers introduced leaves a sort of mystery yet to come for the reader. 3. In Herman Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener” the setting is places in New York City. It plays a huge role in the story showing the reader that no matter how big or small a city is, a person can always be alone and isolated. Bartleby works on Wall Street which is one of the busiest places in the country and shares an office with four other men, but Barlteby is still a recluse. The windows and walls are represented by Bartleby’s mind. Bartleby is put in an office in a small corner with a window with no view and a screen that secludes him from the rest of the office workers. Bartleby is so scared of the outside world and the risks of living, that he keeps himself is a box in the office. Bartleby is considered “the last column of a ruined temple” because of the dullness and the depressing personality he has towards life and to others in his life. He is as lively as a piece of furniture. 4. According to Melville in “Bartleby the Scrivener” Bartleby’s exchanges with his fellow co-workers creates a depressed and lonesome character. Bartleby uses the phrase “I prefer not to” several times throughout the story, and to surprise gets his way. By using this phrase the reader can conclude that Bartleby is a very stubborn person that does not want to create conflict. Rather than telling the narrator no he says “I prefer not to” because he lacks the emotion to feel angry inside. The narrator asks Bartleby on multiple occasions why he doesn’t wish to speak with him and Bartleby’s response is “At present I prefer to give no answer”. To appeal to Bartleby the narrator tries to understand and help Bartleby with whatever is going on inside of him but as usual Bartleby deflects any and all attempts of conversation. 5. At the beginning of the story Melville’s character is very happy to have found someone so calm and so productive with little to no drawbacks, until Bartleby’s true self comes out. The narrator’s first look at Bartleby was that he was a very hard worker but lacks a certain passion for his work. The first task that was asked of Bartleby besides scrivening was politely refused and that confused the narrator. Many bosses are equipped to deal with more extreme cases of rejection but the way Bartleby went about it created a grey area for the narrator to comprehend. His use of the word “prefer” shows up in many cases in the story when his fellow workers start using the word at the letter office. 6. Barlteby and the narrator as well as all of the other characters are apart of the social contract that human beings are supposed to follow. But, in the story, the reader soon finds out that Bartleby does not follow the rules and breaks the contract several times. By not conducting in the work he is supposed to be doing, and by disregarding people and their affections towards him. The narrator feels as though it is his duty as a Christian to help his brother, “sons of Adam”, to understand that all are to be treated equal. But Bartleby does not like to put himself in situation where he owes anyone anything so he opts out of all connection. The narrator tries to amend the social contract by doing things to appeal to Bartleby, but for the contract to actually be modified Bartleby must grip the goodness of the narrator who is just trying to help him.