Counterparts (Joyce)

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Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A frustrated office worker struggled with his job and his boss, leading to a night of heavy drinking and ultimately taking out his anger on his young son.

A man named Farrington worked in an office under a boss named Mr. Alleyne.

Farrington — narrator; office worker; tall, bulky, dark wine-colored face; angry, frustrated, heavy drinker.
Mr. Alleyne — Farrington's boss; small, clean-shaven, wears gold-rimmed glasses; strict, demanding, easily angered.

One day, Mr. Alleyne scolded Farrington for not completing a task on time and for taking too long on his lunch break. During a confrontation in the office, Farrington responded to Mr. Alleyne's question about whether he thinks Mr. Alleyne is a fool by saying,

'I don't think, sir,' he said, 'that that's a fair question to put to me.'

Farrington felt humiliated and angry, and decided to go out for a drink to calm his nerves. He went to a pub and met some friends, who bought him drinks and listened to his story about the confrontation with Mr. Alleyne. As the evening progressed, Farrington and his friends continued to drink and share stories. They met a young acrobat named Weathers, who challenged Farrington to an arm-wrestling match. Farrington lost twice, which further humiliated him and fueled his anger. He spent all his money on drinks and even pawned his watch to continue drinking.

Farrington's anger and frustration build up after being reprimanded by Mr. Alleyne. This thought occurs to him while he is trying to finish his work:

He felt strong enough to clear out the whole office singlehanded.

Eventually, Farrington returned home, where he found his wife out at the chapel and his children in bed. He angrily demanded dinner from his young son, who had let the fire go out in the kitchen. In a fit of rage, Farrington beat his son with a walking stick, despite the boy's pleas for mercy and promises to pray for him, saying: