Characters in "How I Edited an Agricultural Paper"

Substitute Editor (Narrator)

           The narrator, who is also the substitute editor, is a character that is doubtful, happy to work, knows nothing about agriculture, and thinks that people not knowledgeable about a certain subject should write newspaper editorials on the subject. The narrator is doubtful because he is not sure about the job that he has taken from the previous editor. “I did not take the temporary editorship of an agriculture paper without misgivings.” The narrator is very happy to work because he was away from work and returned to the editorial business with “unflagging pleasure.” He believes people don’t have to be knowledgeable about a certain subject to write editorials on them because otherwise there would be no enjoyment in reading the article. He goes on to explain that people who write editorials such as “promoted shoemakers and apprentice apothecaries” and “gentlemen who do not know a war-whoop from a wigwam” are merely people who know nothing about the subject they are writing about, and that is what makes the article unique.


Old Man

          The old man who appears in the narrator’s office after the narrator finishes his first editorial is a character that is very educated on agriculture and insane. The old man shows that he is very educated on agriculture when he proves that the narrator’s editorial on turnips is false because “Turnips don’t grow on trees!” The narrator proves that he is insane because he burned his house down and “crippled several people, and have got one fellow up a tree, where I can get him if I want him.” 

Original Editor

          The original editor of the newspaper is a character that is very knowledgeable about agriculture and he thinks that the editorials should be full of facts and no opinion. The original editor shows that he is knowledgeable about agriculture when he talks about clams. He says, “Clams always lie quiet. Clams care nothing whatever the music.” He uses other subtle criticism when talking about the narrator’s editorial. The original editor proves that he thinks that editorials should be full of facts and no opinion when he talks about how “The reputation of the paper is injured […].” He doesn’t want the newspaper to be known for the insanity that it writes or “prosper upon the infirmities of his mind.”