In his masterpiece Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, Leacock’s lifelong interests in economics and political science merge, resulting in a thematic unity not found in most of his other books. After a genial preface in which Leacock provides some autobiographical information—and in so doing prepares the reader for the narrative tone of naïveté mixed with sarcasm—the narrator, a fellow townsperson, establishes himself as the observer from whose point of view the reader is able to make a judgment about the characters.
The first of these is Mr. Josh Smith. Weighing in at three hundred pounds, Smith owns the town’s only hotel. Shrewd and slyly gregarious, Smith is reputed to be the richest man in Mariposa. He knows how to turn a profit and has even been fined by the License Commission for selling liquor after hours. In a financial venture intended to appease the commission while increasing business, he hires a French chef and opens a café in the hotel. The narrator’s tone suggests admiration at Smith’s business acumen.
Just down the street from the hotel is Jefferson Thorpe’s barber shop. Thorpe is talkative and enjoys the notoriety of being a shrewd investor. The narrator admires the fact that though “Jeff” has “Cuban lands” and even gold mines, he continues shaving his customers without raising his prices. By the end of the story, Jeff has obviously lost his money on scams, but the narrator still...
(The entire section is 543 words.)