What character traits does Jerry have in "A Mother In Mannville?"

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hgarey71 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings's short story, "A Mother in Mannville," Jerry is hardworking, trustworthy, and imaginative. 

Jerry is an orphan who lives at the orphanage where the narrator rents a cabin. He meets the narrator when she puts in a request to have someone come to chop wood for her. Right away, the narrator is impressed with Jerry's work ethic. She didn't think he'd be able to do the job because of his size. In response to the work Jerry did that first day, the narrator says: 

"We went together back of the cabin. An astonishing amount of solid wood had been cut. There were cherry logs and heavy roots of rhododendron, and blocks from the waste pine and oak left from the building of the cabin. 'But you've done as much as a man,' I said, 'This is a splendid pile.'"

Jerry is also trustworthy. This can be seen in his relationship with the narrator's pointer dog, Pat. Jerry plays with Pat, rests with him, and takes care of him when the narrator is gone. The narrator says: 

"He became intimate, of course, with my pointer, Pat. There is a strange communion between a boy and a dog. Perhaps they possess the same singleness of spirit, the same kind of wisdom. It is difficult to explain, but it exists. When I went across the state for a weekend, I left the dog in Jerry's charge. I gave him the dog whistle and the key to the cabin, and left sufficient food."

Along with Jerry's dependability in showing up every day, this quote shows his trustworthiness. The narrator trusts him with the cabin and her dog. The narrator is delayed in her return, and Jerry continues to care for him, and indicates upon her return he would've done so indefinitely if needed, saying "I wouldn't have let anything happen to him." 

Jerry is imaginative because he concocts the story of his mother still being involved in his life. He tells the narrator that his mother lives in Mannville, and comes to visit often. She buys him things, like skates. He says she wanted to buy him a puppy, but it would have been a problem if he had a puppy and the other boys didn't. 

In light of his other qualities, it would be going too far to say Jerry is dishonest, which is incongruent with his character. Imaginative fits him better, as he has created a fantasy parent, as orphans commonly do.