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Characters

Orren Boyle

Character Analysis

Just as Wesley Mouch epitomizes the villainous politician in the book, Orren Boyle represents the bad businessman. We start getting hints at how corrupt Orren is from the very start. He badly mismanages his business, as we learn from some of his victims:

"I think there's something phony about the way Mr. Boyle runs his business. I can't understand what he's after. They've got half their furnaces idle, but last month there were all those big stories about Associated Steel in the newspapers. About their output? Why, no – about the wonderful housing project that Mr. Boyle's just built for his workers." (1.7.9.74)

What is Orren after? Well, like most looters he wants to reap the benefits of doing nothing. His idea of good business is shady backdoor deals and get-rich-quick schemes on the stock market. His press coverage is just that: coverage. It conceals his corruption and inaction.

Most of Orren's scenes occur with his frenemy James. They complain about each other, take joy in one-upping each another, and show that the "morals" of the looters are basically a load of garbage. Here's a sampling of their friendship. Orren starts us off after James calls him his "boy":

"I don't mind the age classifications, I know I look young for my years, but I'm just allergic to pronouns."

"That's very smart, but you're going to get too smart one of these days."

"If I do, you just go ahead and make the most of it, Jimmy. If."

"The trouble with people who overreach themselves is that they have short memories."


[This goes on for a while. Then they start with the accusations and the sniping:]

Because you spent ten thousand dollars pouring liquor into people you hoped would prevent the directive about the bond moratorium!...But what the hell! – it's all right with me, that's the way to share things around, only don't you try to fool me, Jimmy. Save the act for the suckers. (2.2.4.14-20)

Classic. These two are snippy enough to have their own sitcom. We later learn that Orren has fallen out of favor, and it seems by the end of the book that James has ascended to the position of chief industrial dude. This is fitting, given how cutthroat and corrupt the looters' world is. James and Orren couldn't both survive on top for long – like Harry Potter and Voldemort and their whole "neither can live while the other survives" prophecy. James and Orren would be like those two if Harry Potter and Voldemort were corrupt, mildly alcoholic businessmen who enjoyed one-upping each other and then criticizing each other for their botched schemes.

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