The Caretaker Summary (Thomas William Simpson)

Thomas William Simpson

The Caretaker

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Gunn Henderson is the consummate salesman—a smooth talker, easy to get along with, with a beautiful wife and a red Porsche. Most of all, he has the killer instinct needed to close a hard sale. What he lacks, however, are a view of the bigger picture and a conscience.

When Gunn receives an offer to join Creative Marketing Enterprises, he sees that the operation has money to spend, money that he wants. The offer involves selling his home and living in a mansion, complete with cook and caretaker. He and his family quickly settle into their new life.

The narrator lets the reader know of events to come, as well as of events past, that will affect the Hendersons’ lives, and that things are not what they seem. Gunn will end up in jail, the reader is told, but his crime is not identified until it occurs.

Gunn’s new job goes well at first, but eventually his own character faults betray him. While on a business trip, he is unfaithful to his wife; he, in turn, accuses his wife of having an affair with the caretaker and hits her. Gunn’s new employer finds out about the incident and warns him to watch his behavior. He assigns a beautiful assistant to Gunn and further warns him against improprieties, but Gunn cannot help himself and soon is skipping sales calls to stay in bed with this new lover.

Gunn’s behavior costs him his job as well as his wife. Trying to pull the pieces back together, he returns to the mansion. Because of his lack of vision, Gunn cannot see that he has been manipulated every step of the way by someone who knows his faults and knows that he will destroy himself if given the chance. The reader learns of this manipulation only gradually, but always a few steps ahead of the Hendersons. Although this assistance from the narrator makes some of the plot line predictable, it unwinds with some unexpected twists.

Author Thomas William Simpson, through his gossipy, often humorous narration and characterization, makes the reader revel in one man’s self- destruction.