Identify the characteristics that best explain Farrington in Counterparts.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Farrington can be seen as a victim of the world around him.  He is victimized by his boss and his work setting.  He is victimized by his friends, who use him for a night of drinking. He is victimized by his pawn broker, whom he now owes.  Joyce also describes his domestic situation as one of victimization:  "His wife was a little sharp-faced woman who bullied her husband when he was sober and was bullied by him when he was drunk."  It is this victimization that drives him to beat Tom in the end of the story.  Farrington is a victim of the world around him and of his own limited condition.  In being "the figure of brutalized Irish manhood," Farrington can be described as a victim.

Another characteristic that can explain Farrington is victimizer.  Farrington victimizes Miss Parker, demanding that she work faster in order to compensate for his not working much at all.  Farrington also victimizes his boy, who seeks to make him dinner and while being beaten begs his father to stop so that he can say a "Hail Mary" for him.  Farrington is shown to be a victim of the world around him that dehumanizes its workers and uses people as a means to an end. Yet, Joyce does not miss the opportunity to show the effects of such treatment, one in which the victims become victimizers themselves in a startling absence of empathy.  It is in here in which Farrington becomes a very challenging figure to describe, but compelling character to understand.


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