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Analysis of Mr.Carter in John Collier’s Short Story "thus I Refute Beelzy"

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Essay title: Analysis of Mr.Carter in John Collier’s Short Story "thus I Refute Beelzy"

David Wan

Character Analysis of Mr. Carter

In many stories, the protagonist is often described as the hero or the “good guy” of the work. In John Collier’s short story, “Thus I Refute Mr. Beelzy”, this is not exactly the case. Mr. Carter, the “I” in the title, is a cruel, selfish father, who is locked in a struggle with the invisible “Mr. Beelzy” for the love and soul of his son, Small Simon.

Mr. Carter enjoys possessing power and being in control. He is used to everyone doing what he wants, without question. As a dentist, he is able to legally exercise this power on a helpless patient. They are at his mercy when they lie sedated on his chair. Mr. Carter comes home early because two patients cancelled their appointments, though the reason for this is not given. After studying the story, it became safe to assume that they cancelled because of the pain that was about to be caused on them by Mr. Carter. As a father, he is able to exercise this power on his little son. Small Simon is under his father’s mercy when he cringes underneath the weight of his father’s “big, white, dentist’s hand.” Even Mr. Carter’s wife is afraid of his anger. She is unwilling to say anything bad about him, even though she “‘knows what Big Simon’s ideas are.’” Even though Big Simon is not in the room, his power precedes him. Also, Mrs. Carter is not, as the reader would assume, the one to object to the idea of the beating of Small Simon. Betty, not Mrs. Carter, calls out, “‘Don’t!’” before Big Simon says that he will beat Small Simon. Betty, not Mrs. Carter, reacts and rushes up the stairs at the sound of something seeming to “tear the air apart.” In addition to this, Mr. Carter shows supremacy over Small Simon by the very fact that he names himself “Big” Simon, and his young son, “Small” Simon. He even goes so far as to say, “‘I have been longer in the world than you have, so naturally I am older and wiser.” In this way, Mr. Carter is establishing supremacy over Small Simon, in his mind.

Mr. Carter is a cruel father. One might ask why he has become the way he is, and the answer can only be found by looking into his past. It can be assumed that his cruelty has been passed down to him by his father. Mr. Carter was likely abused physically or mentally as a child, and he now uses his past experiences as a model for how he raises Small Simon. Mr. Carter uses Small Simon as a way to get back at his own father, because he could never fight back when he was a child. Now that he has grown up, he takes out his pent up anger on his son. Through underlying messages of pain, he teaches his child how to survive in this world. There are many references to cruelty within this work. For example, Mr. Carter says to Small Simon that, in the old days, children who did not call their fathers “sir” were spanked on the bottom. Also, when Betty refers to the girl in “These Three,” Mr. Carter says, threateningly, that he would have made her “blush in the proper part of her anatomy.” The proper part of her anatomy, to Mr. Carter, is her bottom. Additionally, Mr. Carter squeezes Small Simon’s shoulder while asking him a question. It is obvious that if the wrong answer is given, the pain will come. Small Simon pronounced that “Big Simon and Small Simon” were pretend, and Big Simon decreed that the boy deserved a beating.

Mr. Carter is stubborn. He does not listen to the opinions of others, and is determined to have his way be the only way. For example, he says to Betty, “‘I want him to learn from experience, Betty. This is my way, the new way.’” This way of learning can hardly be attributed to the genius of Mr. Carter. By saying that it is his way, he is establishing ownership over the theory of learning from experience. With this statement, he is attempting to establish his power over Small Simon. He is also trying to diminish any authority his wife holds. In an earlier passage of the story, Mrs. Carter says to Betty, “‘You know what Big Simon’s ideas are,’” Mrs. Carter is Mr. Carter’s wife, and yet she even calls him by the name that he has instructed his son to call him. She also barely makes any effort to try to countermand his ruling that Small Simon should do as he chooses, though she believes in her heart that Big Simon is wrong. She says to Big Simon, “‘He ought to have his rest.’” However, after her husband says to her, “‘He is six. He is a reasonable being. He must choose for himself.’”, she does not respond or try to argue in any way.

Mr. Carter is ignorant. He does not see beyond the surface of his son’s responses and has a limited sense of perception. For example, the “bond” he creates with Small Simon is all in

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