The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg

by

Mark Twain

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Barclay Goodson Character Analysis

Barclay Goodson is the only man in Hadleyburg with a true sense of morality and kindness. When the stranger appears in town and says that somebody once lent him twenty dollars, the townspeople immediately assume this person must have been Barclay Goodson. Despite the town’s reputation for honesty, Goodson is starkly critical of Hadleyburg, believing it is “stingy” and “self-righteous,” perhaps because he wasn’t born in town. Because of this, he is the sole person who scares the stranger, since the stranger thinks Goodson will foil his plan to corrupt Hadleyburg, an otherwise easy target. This is why the stranger waits until Goodson has died (of natural causes) in order to strike. Knowing everybody will assume Goodson was the person who deserves the sack of gold, he tricks the Nineteeners into thinking that Goodson would have wanted them to claim the fortune in his place.

Barclay Goodson Quotes in The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg

The The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg quotes below are all either spoken by Barclay Goodson or refer to Barclay Goodson. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Vanity and Virtue Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Bantam edition of The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg published in 2005.
Section 2 Quotes

At this stage—or at about this stage—a saying like this was dropped at bedtime—with a sigh, usually—by the head of each of the nineteen principal households: “Ah, what could have been the remark that Goodson made?”

And straightaway—with a shudder—came this, from the man’s wife:

“Oh, don’t! What horrible thing are you mulling in your mind? Put it away from you, for God’s sake!”

But that question was wrung from those men again the next night—and got the same retort. But weaker.

And the third night the men uttered the question yet again—with anguish, and absently. This time—and the following night—the wives fidgeted feebly, and tried to say something. But didn’t.

And the night after that they found their tongues and responded—longingly:

“Oh, if we could only guess!”

Related Characters: Barclay Goodson
Related Symbols: The Sack of Gold
Page Number: 433
Explanation and Analysis:

Had he rendered that service? Well, here was Goodson’s own evidence as reported in Stephenson’s letter; there could be no better evidence than that—it was even proof that he had rendered it. Of course. So that point was settled…. No, not quite. He recalled with a wince that this unknown Mr. Stephenson was just a trifle unsure as to whether the performer of it was Richards or some other—and, oh dear, he had put Richards on his honor!

[…] Further reflection. How did it happen that Richards’s name remained in Stephenson’s mind as indicating the right man, and not some other man’s name? That looked good. Yes, that looked very good. In fact, it went on looking better and better, straight along—until by and by it grew into positive proof. And then Richards put the matter at once out of his mind, for he had a private instinct that a proof once established is better left so.

Related Symbols: The Sack of Gold
Page Number: 436
Explanation and Analysis:
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Barclay Goodson Character Timeline in The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg

The timeline below shows where the character Barclay Goodson appears in The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Section 1
Vanity and Virtue Theme Icon
Revenge and Redemption Theme Icon
Outsiders and Insularity Theme Icon
...his wife make guesses as to who is the rightful claimant of the sack. “Barclay Goodson,” they both say at the same time. Goodson was known as a good man, but... (full context)
Vanity and Virtue Theme Icon
Guilt and Shame Theme Icon
...assures Mary that the truth of this matter will never come out, since everybody thinks Goodson was the one to warn Burgess. (full context)
Vanity and Virtue Theme Icon
Guilt and Shame Theme Icon
...gold before submitting the story to the paper. To make things worse, they know that Goodson—who they believe is the rightful claimant of the sack—is dead, meaning that taking the gold... (full context)
Section 2
Vanity and Virtue Theme Icon
Guilt and Shame Theme Icon
...the Nineteeners begin to say things like, “Ah, what could have been the remark that Goodson made?” Each night, their wives scold them for even considering the idea of trying to... (full context)
Revenge and Redemption Theme Icon
Outsiders and Insularity Theme Icon
...“but I know, and I am the only person living who does know. It was GOODSON. I knew him well, many years ago. I passed through your village that very night,... (full context)
Vanity and Virtue Theme Icon
Revenge and Redemption Theme Icon
Outsiders and Insularity Theme Icon
Edward and Mary continue studying Stephenson’s letter, which reads: “I remember [Goodson] saying he did not actually LIKE any person in the town—not one; but that you—I... (full context)
Vanity and Virtue Theme Icon
Revenge and Redemption Theme Icon
Outsiders and Insularity Theme Icon
...the right man you will seek and find the right one and see that poor Goodson’s debt of gratitude for the service referred to is paid.” The remark that Goodson uttered... (full context)
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Revenge and Redemption Theme Icon
Guilt and Shame Theme Icon
...at the good news, but Edward suddenly realizes that he can’t remember having ever done Goodson a “service.” Still, he tries to put this out of his mind. When Mary asks... (full context)
Vanity and Virtue Theme Icon
Guilt and Shame Theme Icon
...for his part, lies awake trying to think of a scenario in which he deserves Goodson’s reward. He feels guilty about having lied to Mary. That is, “if it was a... (full context)
Vanity and Virtue Theme Icon
...better left so,” Edward turns his mind toward identifying what, exactly, he did to earn Goodson’s gratitude. He goes through a number of scenarios in which he rendered Goodson a “service,”... (full context)
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Finally, Edward remembers that Goodson—who died a bachelor—was once set to marry a woman named Nancy Hewitt. Unfortunately, Nancy died... (full context)
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Revenge and Redemption Theme Icon
Guilt and Shame Theme Icon
...the Richardses, these “principal citizens” also managed to convince themselves that they did—as Stephenson suggests—do Goodson a service worthy of a $40,000 reward. Because of this, Jack Halliday is surprised the... (full context)
Section 3
Vanity and Virtue Theme Icon
Revenge and Redemption Theme Icon
Guilt and Shame Theme Icon
...explains in his final note that he was afraid of only one person in Hadleyburg: Goodson. This is because Goodson was born and raised elsewhere. Luckily for the stranger, though, Goodson... (full context)