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Quality - John Galsworthy

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Quality - John Galsworthy

Exhausted, bitter, and miserable is the way that many people feel when they wake up in the morning to get ready for work. Even the very thought of work puts some people in a bad mood. Others may not mind work but still do not look forward to going. It is a rare occasion to find someone who is completely satisfied with his or her career. However, for one man, work is bliss. In “Quality” by Galsworthy, Gessler, the shoemaker, is shown to be a man of integrity and of complete dedication to his work.

Mr. Gessler had his own shoe business where he made leather boots. His dedication is shown through the fact that, “He made only what was ordered, never taking ready-made shoes down from the shelf.” (“Quality” pg. 213.) He wanted each pair of boots to be a custom fit to each individual and for every pair he made, he used a pattern taken from the customer’s foot size. One day the narrator of the story walked into Mr. Galsworthy’s shop wearing a pair of boots from a big business. Mr. Gessler noticed them right away and after a short time he said, “Dey get id all, dey get id by advertisement, nod by work. Dey take it away from us, who lofe our boots.” (“Quality” pg.215) Later in the story, the reader comes to find out that Mr. Gessler is forced to sacrifice half of his shop to a big business. This did not faze him, and he continued to make his boots for the same price and with the same amount of painstaking work. He must be truly dedicated in order to love his business unconditionally.

Mr. Gessler spent such an incredible amount of time preparing the shoes, never trying to expiate the process, in order to make them as perfect as possible and because of this, he stood behind all of his work. The narrator, absent-minded of the fact that Mr.Gessler was so passionate about his boots once said to him, “Mr. Gessler, that last pair of boots creaked, you know.” Angered by the boy’s comment, Mr. Gessler said, “Zend dem back! I will look at dem.” He went on to say, “Zome boods, are bad from birdt. If I can do noding wid dem, I dake dem off your bill.” (“Quality” pg. 215) Not only does this show dedication, but also integrity because he was honest about his work and wanted to satisfy his customer.

Near the end of the story, the narrator comes back to Mr.Gessler’s shop after a long hiatus, only to find out that Mr. Gessler was no longer alive. When he questioned the worker about his death the man said, “Slow starvation, the doctor called it. You see, he went to work in such a way!… Never gave ‘imself time to eat; never had a penny in the house. All went in rent and leather… He regular let his fire go out…But he made good boots.” (“Quality” pg.219) That last sentence was the meaning of the whole story. Mr. Gessler literally dedicated his life to making boots. No matter what he had to sacrifice, including his life, he was willing to do it for the love of his work. Even in his last few days of life, he never stopped making boots, and he even finished the narrator’s boots before he died.

Mr. Gessler indeed was a man of integrity and dedication. His dedication was shown through his struggle to please every customer, and his integrity was shown through his honest way of life and his credibility in his work. In his mind, the needs of his customers far outweighed his own, and when he was no longer in business, he had no reason to go on living.

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