In “My Tailor”, Stephen Leacock throws light on the character and personality of his tailor in humorous way. His tailor had been sewing his clothes for the last thirty years. He always found him standing in the back part of his shop; with his tape around his neck and a smile on his face to welcome his customers. Only two varieties of cloth: tweed and serge were available with him. The writer had to choose either of these two. He often stood on one leg, lifted one knee and dropped the cloth over it to attract the customers. In the writer’s opinion, displaying the cloth over the bent knee is perhaps the best way for a tailor to get his cloth appreciated.
The writer often asked him questions to pelase him. The tailor measured the writer in a queer way. He always measured round the chest and nowhere else. Other measures were taken long ago. He measured the chest only to please the writer. He used to give one week’s time. He often uttered ‘yes’ without any special meaning. He neither sent the bill nor asked for teh amount; but only when there were large consignments from Europe. Whenever the writer talked about the bill, he waved it and started talking about the weather. He always came to the outer door to bid good bye to the writer.
One day the writer was surprised not to find him in the shop. People there told him of the tailor’s death. He failed to understand the cause of his death. He came to know that his business had been going down for years, but he never let anybody know his personal life and of his family, but he had a wife and a daughter and had been a sides-man of a church. He was also interested in music and often played the flute. The writer left the shop in grief but still he heard his voice and his image moved before his eyes “wearing his tape around his neck, marking measures and holding cloth against his leg.”
The essay, “My Tailor” is a scathing criticisim against modern man’s attitude towards life. Modern man is spiritually dead, morally bankrupt and apathetic. He developed materialistic approach towards life. Modern man is self-centered, self-loved and self-styled having his own axes to grind.
In the past, man would reveal himself to other for sympathy but in modern society man conceals himself due to the fear of exploitation. Language was used to reveal the inner reality but the tailor uses language to conceal the inner turmoil.
Thirty years relationship between the writer and the tailor was insufficient for the writer to know the reality about the tailor. Professionalism is atop lacking humanism. Nobody has got enough time to probe into the problems of others in order to solve them.
The writer has been getting his clothes stitched from the tailor for the last thirty years and always found him in the back part of his shop, having tape around his neck with a smile on his face.
Moral of the Essay
In the currents and cross-currents of the modern world, the professionalism is atop. Human beings are only humans in physical domain. Materialism is the ruling passion. Resultant man of today lacks spiritual, moral and social values. The tailor in “My Tailor” has to live in human jungle. He knows that there is nobody to hear his inner groans. There is nobody who can tolerate his bereavements, problems and pains. He has to act professionally in the world of professionals. He has to combat two worlds: the world of inner and the outer. When emotions are not ventilated for a longtime, they become volcanic lava.
The tailor keeps on behaving in business like manner by suppressing his inner emotions. In public dealings, he has to observe the professional ethics. He is required to give a smiling face to every customer. He is supposed to give courtesy to every visitor to his shop. The customer’s likes or dislikes are to be preferred in all manners. In such scenario, there was no catharsis or ventilation of his emotions. His business dwindles to the bottom and he is reported to be dead of cardiac arrest. His sudden death surprises everybody, especially thew writer who had considered the tailor ‘immortal’. What the tailor concealed in his life, the death revealed his real plight.
Humor of Stephen Leacock
Leacock is basically a humorous writer. His humorous writings provoke laughter. But often he mixes humor with pathos and leaves lasting impression on the reader’s mind. Similarly, in this essay he creates humor, but at the same time mixes pathos with it by talking about the tragic death of his tailor. The tailor’s standing upon one leg indefinitely is quite humors. Then his measurement of the writer’s chest only also creates laughter.
One’s measurement changes with years. It looks funny that the tailor had taken his other measures years ago. Then the tailor’s use of “yes” without any purpose also creates laughter. The tailor’s standing upon one leg indefinitely is quite humors. Then his measurement of the writer’s chest only also creates laughter. One’s measurement changes with years. It looks funny that the tailor had taken his other measures years ago. Then the tailor’s use of “yes” without any purpose also creates laughter. The tailor’s carelessness about the bills and his talk about weather adds fun to the essay. But at the end of the essay, the writer creates pathos by narrating the tailor’s financial worries which ultimately led to his death. His wife and daughter were greatly affected by his death. His tragic death wins our sympathy.
Tailor as Immortal?
In the first part of essay, the writer never let us to know anything of personal life of tailor. The second part of essay concerns the personal life of tailor, which the writer comes to know after his death. The writer never knew that the tailor had a wife and a daughter and that he was involved in financial worries. His business was running in loss. His worries caused his death. To meet his expenses, the tailor also worked as a sideman in a church. The writer was, thus, shocked to know the man behind the tailor. The writer and the reader begin to sympathies with the tragic death of the tailor. He had concealed his pain and misery behind his politeness and cheerfulness.
The moral of the essay is that even under adverse circumstances we should remain happy and cheerful. We should never take our worries to heart. The tailor became immortal by being polite and cheerful, courteous, and contented. He had no lust for money. He served the customers selflessly and won their hearts. This made him immortal.