The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

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.)

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Mitchell (Mitch) Y. McDeere

Mitchell (Mitch) Y. McDeere, a brilliant young attorney recruited directly from Harvard Law School by Bendini, Lambert & Locke. Having grown up with a shaky family background, Mitch is ambitious and eager to attain the affluence that will separate him from his past. Mitch is shaken and terrified when he learns that the Bendini firm is being examined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for Mafia-related activities and that several attorneys died when they tried to leave the firm. Mitch comes up with a scheme that allows him and his wife to escape the firm as well as free his brother Ray from prison.

Abigail (Abby) McDeere

Abigail (Abby) McDeere, Mitch’s wife, who quickly becomes suspicious of the firm’s overzealous interest in the attorneys’ personal lives. Her suspicions are confirmed when Mitch tells her about the firm’s true nature. In spite of her fear, Abby stands by Mitch and helps him formulate his plans.

Raymond (Ray) McDeere

Raymond (Ray) McDeere, Mitch’s brother, an inmate at Brushy Mountain State Prison. Although Ray’s personality is somewhat violent and reckless, he cares deeply about his family and is far brighter than his rough background would suggest.

Wayne Tarrance

Wayne Tarrance, an FBI special agent assigned to infiltrate the Bendini firm. Although he wishes the McDeeres no particular harm, Tarrance is willing to risk their lives to bring down the Bendini firm. When Mitch, Abby, and Ray finally go on the run, Tarrance betrays them by launching a massive manhunt and informing the media that the McDeeres...

(The entire section is 688 words.)