Study Guide

The Man with the Wooden Leg in The Confidence-Man

By Herman Melville

The Man with the Wooden Leg

We're just gonna say it: this "sour-faced person" (3, 19) is kind of a crumb cake. He's bitter about his own life and the circumstances that caused him the loss of his leg, so he takes his gripes out on others by "conclud[ing] to be avenged on government and humanity…making himself miserable for life, either by hating or suspecting everything and everybody" (3, 19).

Unfortunately, you don't win any friends when you're calling them dumb-dumbs, even if you think you're helping them out by trying to spot a charlatan for them.