Compare and contrast the characters Sam Carr and Mrs. Higgins from "All the years of her life."

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estoverl eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sam Carr is an older gentleman of some means and comfort who owns the drugstore where Mrs. Higgins' son Alfred works. 

Mr. Carr is a calm but firm man who appears to have a sense of empathy toward his employee, Alfred. He is hopeful that Alfred, whom he suspects has been stealing from him, will prove him wrong. As he finally does confront Alfred about the stealing, Mr. Carr displays a calm, direct attitude. He is intuitive, though, and senses that Alfred truly is pained over the wrong he has done. Mr. Carr behaves with great understanding as he contacts Alfred's mother, Mrs. Higgins, rather than the police. 

Mrs. Higgins mirrors Mr. Carr's calm and firm appearance but does so with an understanding that her son committed a wrong against Mr. Carr. When contacted about the theft committed by her son, she calmly accepts what Mr. Carr tells her with dignity. She is a mom who cares about her son despite his wrongs and is not too proud to ask Mr. Carr to show compassion and release her son to his mother. There is another layer to Mrs. Higgins' character, however, and at the end of the book, we see that she is more fragile than she at first appeared. She displays a distraught demeanor over what he has done once she is back at her home. 

bmadnick eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sam Carr owns the drugstore where Alfred works. He is smart and patient. He's aware that Alfred Higgins is stealing from him and confronts him about it. Although he is stern with Alfred, he doesn't yell at him. He speaks to him calmly and comes across as tolerant and kind. He doesn't call the police; instead, he calls Alfred's mother.

On the outside, Mrs. Higgins seems like a strong, friendly woman. Inwardly, however, she is a weak person who is almost at a breaking point because of her children. When she meets with Sam, she's friendly, charming, and dignified. She convinces him that she will handle the problem with Alfred stealing. She appears to be devoted to Alfred, but she's also aware of how he acts and feels he causes her too much trouble. When she's alone with Alfred, she tells him in an angry voice that he has embarrassed and shamed her. Mrs. Higgins is a very different person than the one she projects publicly.

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All the Years of Her Life

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