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How does Melville's humorous description of the two other clerks in the law office...

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lindenwood | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 19, 2007 at 1:33 PM via web

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How does Melville's humorous description of the two other clerks in the law office relieve his heavy presentation of the Wall Street Setting?

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sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 20, 2007 at 3:36 AM (Answer #1)

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Ah, Turkey and Nippers!  Their names alone are humorous!  The description is as thus:  Turkey is a young man and Nippers is an older man, representing the two ends of the wall street workers.  Turkey "gobbles" at lunch, or so is the assumption - he spends his lunch drinking alcohol, which is why he is so unsteady and irritable in the afternoon.  Nippers is sneaky and never fully upfront.  He is irritable in the morning, and the narrator thinks it is indigestion, suggesting, perhaps, quite a bit of stress in Nippers life.  Or perhaps a lack of funding.  Although well-dressed, he is often visited by bill collectors.  Nippers is not handling his money well, and he is unhappy with his job, feeling it is beneath him.

Wall Street, the center of capitalistic success and greed in America, is portrayed by Melville as a place full of human frailty.  Turkey and Nippers both are not whole.  They each have a portion of the day when they are distinctly unhappy.  They are troubled by greed, whether in the form of job ambition or alcohol.  They are the early forms of the modern "middle man" in business.

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