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Richard Russo’s Novel, Empire Falls Essay

1343 words - 5 pages

In Richard Russo’s novel, Empire Falls, he tells the stories of many different characters that are longtime residents of a small mill town in Empire Falls, Maine. Some of the residents, like Miles Roby, born and raised in Empire Falls, and his mother, Grace Roby, who worked for C.B. and Mrs. Francine Whiting, who are the owners of the mill and most of the town. Because of the events throughout the years, Francine ended up running the business by herself. Mrs. Whiting called Miles and asked him to come home to help take care of his ailing mother. Eventually this led Francine to ask Miles to take over running the Empire Grill and an offer to leave him the ownership in her will. Miles would have been better off if he didn’t accept the offer to run the Empire Grill.
Miles would have finished college if he hadn’t accepted the offer. Miles was in his third year of college when he received a call from Mrs. Whiting. She tried to get hold of him for many days and when she finally did, she informed him that his mother was dying. Because his father, Max Roby, was not around consistently, Miles couldn’t count on him to help. Mrs. Whiting made this offer “If Miles was willing to gradually take over and run the restaurant for a year or so…Mrs. Whiting would see to it that Grace had what she needed”(Russo 393). This made it hard for him to return to school, proving that if he wouldn’t have accepted the offer, he would have been better off.
Miles staying and taking on the management of the Grill made him dependent upon Mrs. Whiting. She was a woman who had a lot of power and control, which seemed to exude everywhere in the town. Because Francine owned the Empire Grill, Miles was at her mercy. What he didn’t realize until later was that his mother and C.B. had had an affair, and Francine had been making his mother pay for her actions for a long time. After Grace died, Francine had no problem controlling Miles in his mother’s absence. If Miles had not accepted the job at the Grill, Francine would not have any control over him.
By not taking the job running the Empire Grill, Miles would have been free from dealing with Cindy Whiting. When she was young, she had such a crush on Miles that she tried to commit suicide. Because Miles’s mother worked for the Whiting family and took care of Cindy, she always encouraged him to pay attention to her, which gave Cindy a false sense that Miles liked her. Miles was a kind person, so he would think long and hard before he did anything that could hurt her feelings. Because Miles stayed in Empire Falls, Cindy came back the minute that she heard that he was getting divorced. “’I still love you, Miles. You see that don’t you?’” (160). If Miles had not stayed to run the Empire Grill he would have had much less contact with Cindy.
If Miles didn’t run the Empire Grill, He would never have married Janine. Miles was infatuated with another woman all through high school. Charlene, a waitress at the Empire Grill, was a beautiful girl....

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