Duddy’s obsession with land lies within his grandfather, Simcha.
When Duddy was small, he spoke those unforgettable words to him,
“A man without land is nobody.”
When it seemed as if nobody cared or respected him, Simcha did.
Duddy did not receive the same kind of love from his father or
uncle as Lennie did. When Duddy comes back from work at, he
asks, “Why [Max] didn’t answer any of [his] letters?” He replies
he wasn’t “one for letters.”
“But Duddy remembered that when Lennie had worked as a camp
counsellor one summer his father had written every week. He had
driven out to visit him twice.”(pp. 104 & 105)
Duddy did not have the same kind of affection and devotion Lennie
and Max shared. The same situation came from his uncle, Benjy.
At first sight, Benjy described him as having a “thin crafty
face, the quick black eyes and the restlessness_the grain so
shrewd and knowing, all made a bad impression on Uncle Benjy.”
(p. 61) Benjy supported Lennie, giving him money for his
education. With the exception of Simcha, he had no other
parental support which is the reason why Simcha words had such a
great effect on him.
Duddy gains what he had wanted in its acquisition, respect.
Everyone except Simcha, Mr. MacPherson, and Uncle Benjy thought
he was going to be a nobody. He wanted so much to prove them
wrong and he has. We may say he has gained self assurance,
restating the fact he was a somebody important. Since his days
at Fletcher’s Field High School, he ran a gang based on respect,
not friendship. Things do not change when he becomes an adult.
Virgil is just one of the people Duddy uses to get money for his
land. He feels no grief for hurting his so called friends
because he has never experienced true friendship. His purchasing
of land would push him into higher step in society. What he
gains is nothing compared to what he loses.
Duddy has lost his innocence. No longer is he the pure and na?ve
boy as before, but now a corrupt, immoral man. Duddy has chosen
a life without conscience or goodness, beginning a life with no
morals and corrupt “friends.” He does not think twice to people
he has hurt which displays the deterioration of his character.
He has traded morality for destructive materialistic values.
Simcha believed in him but now looks at him in shame for he knows
the respect he will gain is shallow. The strangers who respect
him look at his money, not at his heart. To Simcha, money is not
everything. He has lived a life based on respect but for
character, not riches. Simcha’s words have impacted Duddy’s life
but not in the way he wanted, never like this in his darkest
nightmares. There is no more respect towards Duddy in Simcha’s
eyes but in this twisted world, respect from the overall public.
Duddy knows of Simcha disapproves of his actions but at the end,
he does not care, he thinks everything will be all right. This
is the kind of person he has turned out to be. Someone who does
not understand what is wrong from right. His conscience feels
nothing, not even for the person who truly supported him from the
start. If this is how his mind works for someone he loves, it
frightening to think how his treats someone he hates. He loses
the meaning of respect and decency and gains a numbness to
corruption. Simcha’s ironic words gained Duddy land but made him
a heartless criminal.