Mr. Jim Wormold, the Unlikely Optimist in "Our Man in Havana"

Topics: Religion, Religious belief, Faith Pages: 5 (1698 words) Published: March 31, 2013
According to the online version of the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “faith is the allegiance to duty or a person: loyalty (1): fidelity to one's promises (2): sincerity of intentions.”# The concept of faith can cleverly be disguised as a purely religious byproduct; possessed primarily by the followers of a religious belief system or spiritual path. However, faith simply means a strong trust in something or someone. Faith is to commit oneself to act based on life experience to warrant rationalization, but without sufficient proof. To have a faith in someone or something also involves an act of will to persevere when the odds are at great length. Even though the protagonist, Jim Wormold doesn’t have religious faith and his actions motivated entirely by desperation to have the approval of an absent wife and spoiled daughter, he is the only character that doesn’t exhibit blind faith.

Faith is closely related to loyalty, as evidenced by the ideal of ”fidelity to one’s promises” or an inherent “faithfulness”. Faith is not an uniquely religious principle, but it is a byproduct of entrusting loyalty. And both loyalty and faithfulness have connections to trustworthiness. Loyalty cannot exist without faith. Wormold’s faith is engrossed to the loyalty of his daughter. As stated in Chapter 2, “Unlike Wormold, who believed in nothing, Milly was a Catholic: he had been made to promise her mother, he supposed, was of no faith at all, but she had left a Catholic on his hands. It brought Milly closer to Cuba than he could come himself” (Greene, 15). When marrying, Wormold promised his wife they would raise their children as Catholics. Even when his wife leaves he continues to raise Milly as a Catholic. Although it appears that he himself is absent of a religious faith, his actions to ensure she is Catholic are very significant. Wormold failed in his marriage, but doesn’t want to fail in raising his daughter with the right upbringing.

Wormold is wholly dedicated and governed by the main woman in his life, his daughter Milly. She is the entire reason for him becoming involved in the Secret Service. By all accounts he should have rejected Hawthorne's offer. He has no background or training of any kind that would qualify him to be a spy. However, he sees a chance to make some money and he exploits it. He not only takes the basic pay of $300 offered him, but goes out of his way to make as much money as possible by creating phantom agents and missions all requiring more money, which of course he uses on his daughter. The following quote presents the reasoning why Wormold accepts Hawthorne’s offer. Milly wants a horse and a country club membership for her seventeenth birthday although she knows Wormold cannot afford the extra expenses of such a gift.

…,‘Oh, I knew you’d take it like this,’ Milly said. ‘I knew it in my heart of hearts. I said two novenas to make it right, but they haven’t worked. I was so careful too. I was in a state of grace all the time I said them. I’ll never believe in a novena again. Never. Never.’ (…) He had no faith himself, but he never wanted by any action of his own to weaken hers. Now he felt a fearful responsibility; at any moment she would be denying the existence of God. Ancient promises he had made came up out of the past to weaken him. (18)

In the given quote, Milly begins to doubt whether her prayers will be answered. It is obvious she takes advantage of her father and asks for anything even if she knows her father cannot afford it. In fear of Milly becoming skeptical of her Catholic faith, Wormold keeps the horse as he had made "ancient promises to his wife" to "raise a good Catholic". Wormold’s fear of his daughter, or at least the fear of her disapproval is brought to realization. Wormold has a great love for his daughter and wants to give her everything she wants so that he can succeed as a single parent and remedy faults he committed to his wife. He sees direct parallels to his daughter with...
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