Mitchell McDeere, the protagonist, is an idealistic graduate of Harvard Law School at the beginning of the novel. He is something of an all-American boy, a former high-school football player who has always scored highly in whatever endeavor he undertook. He is happily married, and when he is offered the fantastic job in Memphis, his life would seem to be almost perfect. It is, however, clouded by several shadows: His widowed mother, whom he has not seen in several years, is a a waitress living with her second husband in a trailer park in Florida, and his brother Ray is serving a sentence in a Tennessee penitentiary for killing a man in a barroom brawl. As Ray points out when his brother visits him in prison, Mitchell is the first McDeere in generations who has made something of himself.
The Firm is to some degree a novel of initiation, for Mitchell, something of an idealist, learns many bitter facts of life as a result of his involvement with Bendini, Lambert, and Locke. When the plot reaches its climax, he has not only outsmarted the members of the firm, the Mafia backers, and their hired gunmen, but he has also hoodwinked the FBI agent and would seem to have gained the ascendancy. He, his wife, and his brother are in possession of eight million dollars, documents to use as security, and the necessary papers for a new life and new identity. Yet questions remain: At what cost has such a seemingly idyllic existence been achieved, and what are the perils and anguish to be faced by fugitives constantly afraid of being apprehended by dangerously vindictive members of the underworld? The groundwork for making credible the change in...
(The entire section is 674 words.)