October 10, 2004

The Refusal

In everyday society people are expected to do certain things. In America, people are expected to work for a living and do anything they can to gain wealth for their family, or even just to put food on the table. However, when one does not do their duties in their job they are asked to leave or in harsher terms are fired. This is what should have happened to Barleby.

If you have never read Melville's "Barleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall-Street" then don't. As Renne so wonderfully put it, "I feel like I wasted 23 pages of my entire life, hours of my precious college time, and so forth." It was a HUGE let down for me. I could not believe that the narrartor would just let this go on without taking further action, and then when did try to take action he gave into Bartlby. I just wanted to take the narrartor by the neck and force him to grow some backbone.

Ok. Now that that is out of my system I can explain a little bit more in depth. First of all, after the second "I would prefer not to," I was getting a little bit angry. Who in their right minds would not do what their boss wants of them and expect to keep their jobs? My feelings on the subject are that Bartleby doesn't know how to work with others. Not only does he not do what he is asked, but he takes advantage of his job and starts living there! That is just creepy. Amanda and others thought that he was a ghost, but personally when he started refusing to do certain duties, I thought that he was just a lousy mooch.

Now what I found interesting was when the narrator fires him and gives him the money to leave, why didn't he just take the money and go? I mean yes being compensated is part of everyday works, but the narrator gives him money on top of that just to get rid of him. Bartleby doesn't even flinch though and just puts the money back. I could not believe what I was reading as the story continued and he just stopped doing work all together. It must really be a bad thing when a business has to pick up and move because they can't get rid of one trespasser. It kind of reminds me of a situation I am in right now in my personal life. Come next month I have to open a new checking account because the one I have now is being broken into somehow and the bank doesn't know what is going on.

I also want to talk about the other characters a bit, especially Turkey and Nippers. What is with these two? Two different personalities in the morning and afternoon? I have heard of this before, but never really believed it was possible. Were they both bi-polar or something? I think that was another reason I disliked the story so much. I never could tell who was who. I guess it was because of the multiple personality switches. I had to keep reading over and over again sections with these two in them to make sure I understood what was going on in the situation and who was going after Bartleby in that section.
Speaking of the relationship between Bartleby and the rest of the workers. If I were them I would have been angry at my boss's reaction to the Bartleby thing too. Here I am working my butt off while there is this guy who is supposed to be working too just standing there staring out the window responding to requests with an "I would prefer not to." I would end up quitting and finding a new job. I don't know if I could handle working in that kind of a situation.


Posted by Tiffany Brattina at October 10, 2004 1:33 PM


I agree with your statement. The employer should have fired Bartleby because he didn't do any work. I don't understand why he feel sorry for him. You are suppose to work in exchange for money, but Bartleby practically lived in the employer's office. I guess he is mentally instable. Do you have any conclusions of why Bartleby reacted to the way he did?


Posted by: NabilaUddin at October 10, 2004 5:38 PM

Practically? He did live in his employers office. I'm sorry but that is just creepy.

Posted by: Tiffany at October 10, 2004 9:27 PM

Right, I agree that it is creepy.

Posted by: NabilaUddin at October 10, 2004 10:49 PM

Nabila I'm sorry I didn't answer your last question last night. I was a bit preoccupied. I, like yourself, believe that there has to be something the matter with Bartleby, however at the same time it really isn't the narrartor's job to take care of him in the way that he did. I mean the narrator is just trying to run a successful business in an economy where money making is demaded!


Posted by: Tiffany at October 11, 2004 11:37 AM
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