I have an essay on this and could really use some help understanding this short story! thanks!
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The early paragraphs frame the character for us. The narrator's initial self-characterization is important to the story. He is a "safe" man, one who takes few risks and tries above all to conform. The most pragmatic concerns of financial security and ease of life are his priorities. He has made himself perfectly at home in the modern economy: he works as a lawyer dealing with rich men's legal documents. He is therefore an opposite or complement to Bartleby in many ways. He is also ill suited to be entrusted with the salvation of another.