The Business Man (Poe)

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The Business Man
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man with a strong sense of method and order tried various unconventional occupations, such as walking advertiser, eye-sore creator, and cat-grower, always applying his systematic approach to succeed in each venture.

Peter Proffit was a methodical man who believed that method was the key to success in business. He despised eccentric people who claimed to be methodical but did not understand the true meaning of the word. Peter attributed his success in business to his strict adherence to method and order.

Method is the soul of business.

Throughout his life, Peter tried his hand at various professions. He started as a walking advertiser, where he would wear the clothes of a merchant tailor and attract customers. He then moved on to the Eye-Sore trade, where he would build unsightly structures next to beautiful buildings to force the owners to pay him to remove them. However, a disagreement with a corporation led to his dismissal from the trade.

Peter then ventured into the Assault-and-Battery business, where he would provoke people into physically assaulting him and then sue them for damages. He kept a detailed account of his profits and losses in this trade, but eventually had to leave due to the toll it took on his health.

He then tried his hand at Mud-Dabbling, where he would clean the shoes of people who had stepped in mud. However, he found the competition too fierce and moved on to Cur-Spattering, where his dog would dirty people's shoes and he would clean them for a fee. This venture also ended in failure due to a disagreement with his dog.

True method appertains to the ordinary and the obvious alone, and cannot be applied to the outré.

Peter then became an organ grinder, playing music on the streets for money. He found moderate success in this profession but eventually grew tired of it and moved on to the Sham-Post, where he would deliver fake letters to people and collect postage fees. However, he left this profession due to the guilt he felt for deceiving people.

Finally, Peter found success in the Cat-Growing business, where he would raise cats and sell their tails for a profit. This venture proved to be both lucrative and enjoyable for Peter, who considered himself a "made man" and planned to buy a country estate on the Hudson River.

The Narrator — narrator; methodical, business-minded, and adaptable; constantly changing occupations.