Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Ethan Allen Hawley awakens on a Good Friday morning in April, 1960, and greets his wife, Mary, in his usual manner by making funny faces at her. Mary is amused but a bit unnerved; she disapproves of his constant teasing and flippancy, especially on “serious” holidays. At breakfast she asks him if he is going to close the store early for Good Friday. Ethan works as a grocery clerk in Marullo’s store, a position he resents when he remembers that his Puritan forebears were once influential in the village. His grandfather, in fact, owned a ship, which was mysteriously burned, and his father failed in business.
On his way to work, Ethan chats with Joe Morphy, the teller at Mr. Baker’s bank. “The Morph,” as he is called, is the village “newspaper” and knows the local gossip and everyone in town. This morning, he tells Ethan, purely as small talk between friends, his “philosophy” on how to rob a bank. At the store, Ethan plunges into his daily routine, beginning with his ritual of addressing the shelves of canned goods. It is a ritual he performs half in celebration of life, half in self-deprecation, sensing how far he, a Harvard graduate and veteran of World War II, fell. As he is sweeping, Ethan is greeted by Mr. Baker, president of the bank. A leading citizen of New Baytown and respectable, moneyed, and secure, Mr. Baker reminds Ethan of the money Mary inherited and urges him to invest it wisely. He assures Ethan that in spite of the...
(The entire section is 1095 words.)
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