In Edwin Arlington Robinson's "Richard Cory," why do the townspeople watch and look at Richard Cory when he walked down the street?

Expert Answers
carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Edwin Arlington Robinson’s “Richard Cory” reinforces the theory that “a person cannot judge a book by its cover.” Richard Cory was everything that anyone might want to be or so it seemed. How did the author describe Mr. Cory?

He was a gentleman [the poet gives him an elite status by using the word crown implying that he was almost royalty. 

  • Handsome
  • Good physique
  • Well-dressed but never gaudy
  • Never talked above the other people
  • Impacted people’s emotions when he talked
  • Very wealthy
  • Well-educated
  • Worthy of adulation

This man was a celebrity for his time period.  To the people of his town, Cory was like a king.  The people were in awe of him and admired him so much that they wanted to be just like him. 

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,

We people on the pavement looked at him:

He was a gentleman from sole to crown,

Clean favored and imperially slim.

When he came to town, the people watched him admiringly.  They listened to him talk, they noticed how he walked, and wished that they could be in his place.  Not one negative word is mentioned about Cory.  Since they are working people and have so little, it seems odd that the townspeople would have no animosity or ill-will for him.

There is no explanation for the suicide of Cory. This amazing man shoots himself in the head marring the face that was so admired.  It would interesting to know the reactions of the citizenry when they learned how their idol killed himself.