Thursday, 25 December 2008

my kinsman, major molineux

Set just before the American War of Independence during the unrest in Massachusetts, the arrival of Robin, a travelling youth seeking his fortune in the town where his relative Major Molineux dwells is met with considerable suspicion from the town locals who appear to be in on a joke he isn't. Robin is your typical questing boy out to seek his fortune and visiting a rich relative to get a good start.

Along the way there are hints of people searching for Robin. Robin is cryptically told that the Major has been seen, is nearly dragged into a house until the watch passes by. Finally a local (whose guise seems infernal) advises him that Major Molineux will pass by presently. He rests at an abandoned church and is then taken in by a local gentleman who wishes to see his re-union.

The re-union takes place, for Major Molineux has been tarred-and-feathered and is being paraded around town by a mob including those who had previously kept Robin at arms-length. Everyone is laughing at the rustic who has now become the butt of a cruel joke. Molineux and Robin see each other before the parade moves on. Horrified, Robin asks to leave for the ferry but his gentleman companion bids him stay a few days first.

Hawthorne captures the isolation of the rustic traveller in a city, the longing for home and childhood and the way that city dwellers treat newcomers. Though his description borders on the fanciful, this is suited to his style and period and helps to foster the air of mystery that permeates the story. The city is hostile, promising much though the price always seems a little too high...

The story can be found here...

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