Essay on A Short Story About an Evil Barber in Ring Lardner's Haircut

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In Ring Lardner’s short story “Haircut”, the narrator is a straightforward barber, who goes by the name Whitey. The story is about Whitey tells a customer about the well-liked regular at the local barbershop, Jim Kendell. At first the barber makes it seem that Jim is a good old fella, but depending on some people’s views, and on Jim’s actions towards people, they will quickly discover that Jim is a selfish jerk. Keeping this in mind there are two important questions that are brought up throughout the story, which are if Jim’s life actually matter to the town and was Jim an evil person; personally, I believe that Jim was not a completely evil person and that the town did not value his life.
Jim was known as the town’s practical joker, even
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Throughout the story when Jim’s wife is mention, Whitney would said”As I say, she’d of divorced Jim, only she seen that she couldn’t support herself and the kids…” However, I believe this wasn’t the real reason why Jim’s wife wouldn’t divorce him. I think she was afraid of what he would do if she tried, there was cases where he didn’t get he’s way he would slash out by playing a cruel “joke” on someone, and besides after Jim lost his job with the Carterville people he only did little paid jobs around town and use the money to buy gin. Whitney mentions that the only reason why the children didn’t starve was, because the stores in town were supporting them; also Jim’s wife was trying to make money by making clothing. Therefore, she wouldn’t divorce him for financially reasons, but for safety of the family.
Now keeping this all in mind, did Jim really matter to the town, or was he just the town’s biggest joke? The conclusion I have about this is that the town was just keeping Jim around just for the stories, so they would have something to talk about. There was a man named Hod Meyers who was also known for his jokes around town, but he wasn’t as cruel or as famous as Jim, therefore the town didn’t like Jim solely for him. Also, by the way Whitney talks about Jim at the end of the story by saying” He certainly was a card! Comb it wet or dry?” leaves the reader with the thought that Jim was just another one of Whitney’s ways entertain the passers-by who

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