Character Analysis Peter Doyle


Peter Doyle is the only character in the novel who does not seem responsible for his own sufferings. Unlike Miss Lonelyhearts, Doyle is wholly the victim of his circumstances. We feel sorry for Miss Lonelyhearts' correspondents, but, with the exception of Fay Doyle, they are not really part of the action. However, West has minimized our attitude of pity toward Doyle by making Doyle's crippled condition disgusting — West likens him to a crushed insect — and also by emphasizing Doyle's self-rejection and self-pity. Doyle tries to put some meaning into his life by loving his stepdaughter and by sticking faithfully to his painful job, both actions which the reader can admire. But his complete lack of respect for himself, when he calls himself a pimp for bringing Miss Lonelyhearts home to his wife, and his grotesque and foolish behavior when he grovels like a dog, suggest masochistic pleasure in these degrading roles. In his attempt at vengeance, he reluctantly plays the injured husband, trying to make up for his inadequacies. This last action even casts doubts on the genuineness and unselfishness of his affection for his stepdaughter, for Doyle always seems to be performing a part.

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