This characterization of Uncle Henry focuses on the two main ways that he is portrayed in “Luke Baldwin’s Vow.”  These two ways are: what Morley Callaghan, the author, reveals through the narrator and what other characters say about Henry.  In this short story, Henry is usual referred to as Uncle Henry because he is Luke’s uncle. The narrator of this story portrays Henry in many physical and psychological descriptions.  He is the manager of a sawmill, where he employs four men.

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When working in his sawmill or anywhere else for that matter, he never wastes anything, big or small. Henry is very organized when it comes to the business of running his sawmill.  He even keeps a little black book to record every single transaction of the sawmill.  Henry is big and burly, weighing in at more than two hundred and thirty pounds.  He has a black, rough- skinned face.  Luke’s uncle is said to look like a powerful man, but his health is not good.  Henry has aches and pains in his back and shoulders, which his doctor cannot explain.  He is respected by his family and friends, and no one ever disobeys him.  Uncle Henry thinks that everything has to have a specific purpose.  For example, he thinks that his old dog, Dan, is “. . . not much good even for a watchdog now,” and  is “. . . no good for hunting either.”

John Steinbeck and Characterization

The narrator’s description of Henry is so well done that one can picture him in one’s mind or even compare him to someone in one’s day to day life. The second main way that Henry is portrayed throughout “Luke Baldwin’s Vow” is what other characters say about Henry.  In this story Henry has a wife named Helena.  She says that her husband is “wonderfully practical.”  Helena also says that Henry takes care of everything in a sensible and easy way; therefore, that would make him an efficient worker.

Secondly, Luke, Henry’s nephew, looks up to him as a role model.  One reason that Luke does this is because “he had promised his dying father he would try to learn things from his uncle”; so he watches him very carefully.  Finally, Mr. Kemp, Henry’s neighbor, says that he is a practical and straightforward man.  The other characters in this short story describe Henry just as well, but not as thoroughly as the narrator.

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