As with most of Hawthorne's short stories, attention is focused on a single figure in "My Kinsman, Major Molineux," and virtually every other character serves some functional purpose in highlighting the qualities of the protagonist. Robin's perception of himself and the reader's perception are quite different. The youngster is optimistic and believes he is "shrewd" (a word used with ironic overtones throughout the story). He is convinced he is going to make his mark in the world with the help of an uncle who has connections. As a result, he is unable to recognize the many hints he receives from the townspeople that his uncle is not the man he believes him to be, and he fails to understand he is being made the butt of a number of inside jokes among these people.
Unquestionably, Robin is naive. Whether he is culpably so is another matter. Some would claim that his story is intended to show how youthful ideals can be shattered in an instant; in that view, his rapid transformation from worshipper to persecutor can be taken as evidence that adolescents are easily swayed by the kind of mob psychology which grips the youth when he sees his uncle being driven out of town by the angry crowd. A case might be made, however, that Robin's position as a stranger among people who might turn their anger on him provides some justification for his behavior; one might be pressed to find evidence in the tale to support such a reading, but there are hints that by the time he...
(The entire section is 299 words.)