What is the significance of Richards' character? Why does he want to conceal Brently Mallard from his wife at the end of the story?
Richards is a very briefly developed character, but we can learn much from him by his actions. He comes to help gently break the news to Mrs. Mallard that her husband has been killed in a train accident. It is he that first receives the news, and he takes care to confirm it himself and make sure that Mrs. Mallard is told as soon and as carefully as possible. Because of these actions, we are inclined to think of Richards as careful, caring, and concerned. We also might think of him as naive or narrow-minded. Mrs. Mallard turns out to be stronger than anyone has given her credit for, including Richards. At the end of the story, Richards tries to shield Mrs. Mallard from the new shock of her husband being alive. Again, we see here the limitation of his character. He mistakenly believes Mrs. Mallard's shock will come from her excitement of her husband returning home, missing her true feelings completely.