What got Farrington off to a bad start with Mr. Alleyne? What does this say about Farrington?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Farrington is already shown as someone who lacks a good relationship with his boss, Mr. Alleyne.  In the opening lines of the story, it is evident that their relationship is frayed as Farrington finds out that he has been summoned to Alleyne's office:  "The man muttered "Blast him!" under his breath and pushed back his chair to stand up...He went heavily upstairs until he came to the second landing, where a door bore a brass plate with the inscription Mr. Alleyne."  The descriptions of what Farrington says and how he walks into the office are reflections of a relationship that is very unhealthy and quite toxic, filled with resentment and seething anger.

The animosity continues with how Alleyne berates Farrington.  He lets him have it in every possible way.  Alleyne mocks him with using his words back against him, asserts authority over him repeatedly, insults his intelligence, and treats him with a dismissive form of disrespect.  All of this is internalized within Farrington's psyche:  

Mr. Alleyne bent his head again upon his pile of papers. The man stared fixedly at the polished skull which directed the affairs of Crosbie & Alleyne, gauging its fragility. A spasm of rage gripped his throat for a few moments and then passed, leaving after it a sharp sensation of thirst. The man recognised the sensation and felt that he must have a good night's drinking.

This interaction that helps Farrington get off to a really bad start with his boss is reflective of the anger that builds inside him. It seethes and festers. Drinking is only a temporary respite from anger and rage, as seen with the ending of the story.  Farrington is a really unhappy individual.  He hates his job, his social connections are not redeeming, and he finds no respite in his family.  He is not very spiritual, and there is little in way of centered happiness in his being.  The anger and resentment that he finds in his job is reflective of a being that is alienated from any form of real happiness.  The bad start that he experiences with Alleyne is reflective of a hopeless condition, an alienated state of being in which bad moves to worse and continues on the downward spiral. His bad start with Alleyne is a reflection of this dynamic.

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