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 naïve 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.