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Hawthorne, Nathaniel. "My Kinsman, Major Molineux".


The narrator offers some brief historical background, describing the times when the Kings of England have assumed the right of appointing the colonial governors. This act was greeted with great antipathy by the settlers of New England. They keenly work towards removing such authorities. Then the narrator begins telling the reader, whom he directly addresses, the story proper.

A country-bread youth, Robin, arrives at Boston to stay here with his kinsman, Major Molineux. He asks passers-by about the Major's dwellings, but people only laugh at him and give him no answer. Finally one man tells the now desperate boy to to wait for an hour and then he should see the Major. Robin notices that half of the man's face is red and another half is black. Robin is waiting, when another man goes by and seems willing to talk to him. Robin's companion is anxious to learn Robin's story and why he looks for his kinsman. Robin explains that his father and the Major are brothers and that his older brother should inherit the land and property of his father, while he was promised to be provided by the Major himself.

There is some uproar coming near them and finally the man with one face red (symbolizing fire and sword) and the other black (symbolizing the mourning) appears with an uncovered cart where Major's dignity is being diminished and derided by the whole town. As Robin sees it, he bursts out into laughter himself, and his laughter is stronger than that of any of the town settlers. Suddenly there is a shift and Robin's companion asks: "Well, Robin, are you dreaming?" And Robin asks for the way to the ferry, but his companion tells him he will show him the way later. Or, perhaps, Robin may choose to stay with them and he may rise in the world also without the help of his kinsman.



(from Portable Hawthorne)

- based on the old legend of a youth in search of a protector, a mentor, and a spiritual father

- after a dreamlike search, Major Molineux turns out to be an old Royalist derided by the Boston mob and then by Robin himself

- meanwhile Robin has found another mentor, who tells Robin that he "may rise in the world without the help of your kinsman, Major Molineux."


  • Author

    Hawthorne, Nathaniel. (1804 - 1864).
  • Full Title

    "My Kinsman, Major Molineux".
  • First Published

    In: The Token. 1832.
  • Form

    Short story.

Works Cited

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. "My Kinsman, Major Molineux". (1832). In: The Portable Hawthorne. Ed. Malcolm Cowley. New York: The Viking Press, 1974.

Cowley, Malcolm, ed. The Portable Hawthorne. New York: The Viking Press, 1974.


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