Human Comedy

Life goes on even through the toughest times. “A good man never dies. ” (Callimachus), he is always remembered. In the Human Comedy by William Saroyan a historical fiction book taking place in Ithaca, California during World War II. Homer, a fourteen year old telegraph messenger, learns this lesson through Mr. Spangler, the owner of the telegraph office; Mr. Grogan, Homer’s close friend who types telegraphs; and Marcus, his older brother fighting in the war. When Marcus dies he lives on in spirit because he was such a good man; his good spirit will live on in everyday life.

When Mr. Grogan dies his lively, wise, sympathetic spirit will live on. Mr. Grogan’s passion for his job will live on forever. Although Mr. Spangler has not died yet, his generosity will continue to live on when he dies. The good men, Mr. Spangler, Marcus, and Mr. Grogan will always be remembered for their kindness, compassion, and generosity. Mr. Spangler will live on forever when he dies because of his generosity. When a man comes in to rob the telegraph office, Mr. Spangler says, “I’d give you the money anyway, but not because you’re pointing a gun at me. (Saroyan 103-104) Mr. Spangler gives the man the money because he knows the brigand needs the money. The thief will always remember the undeserved kindness Mr. Spangler gave him. Although Mr. Spangler knows Homer is under aged and says, “We’re not supposed to hire a boy unless he is sixteen, but I thought I’d take a chance on you,” (Saroyan 18). Although Mr. Spangler knows Homer is too young to work at the telegram office, he gives Homer the job because he knows Homer’s family needs the money. Homer will remember Mr.

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Spangler because he was kind when Homer’s family needed the help. While Homer is on his first day at the job Mr. Spangler gives him a quarter and says, “Go get me two-day old pies-apple and coconut cream. Two for a quarter” (Saroyan 19). Mr. Spangler is generous to Homer and purchases Homer two pies for him and Mr. Grogan to share because Mr. Spangler likes Homer’s personality. Mr. Spangler will live on after he dies due to his generosity. Homer will remember all of his generous gestures and so will the thief. Mr.

Grogan’s love for his job and Homer will always be remembered. A short time after Mr. Grogan met Homer he said, “From now on, you and I are friends” (Saroyan 20). Mr. Grogan was fond of Homer from almost the moment they met. Homer will remember Mr. Grogan for being so welcoming. After Homer wakes Mr. Grogan from his intoxicated rest a telegraph comes in, Mr. Grogan needs the coffee from Corbett’s immediately to have the telegram accurate. It is vital for Mr. Grogan to type the telegraph because he loves his job and does not want to lose it.

After he types the telegraph he tells Homer, “They’ve been wanting to retire me for years” “I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I didn’t have this job. I guess I’d die in a week. ” (Saroyan 30). When Mr. Grogan dies typing Marcus’s death message Homer says, “He didn’t type it out, because he heard it” (Saroyan 185). Homer is concluding Mr. Grogan cared about Homer and his family so much he adjourned typing the death message because it was too painful for him. Mr. Grogan loves his job and his friend Homer with a passion and cannot live without either.

Marcus’s kind spirit will live on in everyday life. On the train Tobey, Marcus’s friend from war, tells Marcus, “Maybe you won’t understand a thing like this, but I feel that Ithaca is my hometown too” (Saroyan 159). Marcus knows Tobey has no place to call home and he wants Tobey to feel loved so he tells Tobey everything about his hometown. Marcus promises to take Tobey to Ithaca after the war is over. This gives Tobey a purpose to live through the war. Tobey will remember Marcus’s kindness forever because Marcus gives him a reason to live.

After Homer reads the letter Marcus sent him he says, “If my brother is killed in this stupid war I shall spit at the world. I shall hate it forever” (Saroyan 168). Homer, although extremely upset looses his temper because of his love for Marcus. Homer cannot stand the thought of losing his brother because he loves him so dearly. Towards the end of the letter Marcus tells Homer that he is the best of the McCauley’s; that shows the respect and love Marcus has for Homer and Homer will remember Marcus’s kindness forever.

When Homer reads the unfinished telegram, “[he] looked around the telegraph office. Suddenly he spat, and then sat down, as if in a trance, looking straight ahead. There were no tears in his eyes” (Saroyan 185). Homer was so upset about his brother’s death he did not know what to do. Homer will always remember his brother and all the kindness Marcus showed him. Tobey will always remember Marcus because he changed him from being a vagrant to having a family. Mr. Spangler, Mr. Grogan, and Marcus will always be remembered for their kindness and compassion for others.

Each of these men are remembered for their kindness towards others for the extent of loving a thief to giving someone a home. They all have many attributes in common, but the biggest of all is they usually think of others before themselves. “Anyone who proposes to do good must not expect people to roll stones out of his way, but must accept his lot calmly if they even roll a few more upon it” (Albert Schweitzer). All good men must remember a good deed is not always followed by a good deed in return. Marcus, Mr. Spangler and Mr. Grogan have experienced all their good deeds have sometimes been followed by a dilemma in return.