Everyman

by: Philip Roth

Howie

An energetic, natural leader and sportsman, Howie is a likeable figure. Unlike his brother, Howie is a happy family man, loyal to his wife of many decades, and beloved by his four sons. He rises from his humble background as a jeweler’s son to become a successful and extremely wealthy businessman, seemingly without any scandal or cutthroat behavior. He is in perfect health throughout his life. He grieves for his parents and cares for the everyman both personally and financially, even when doing so prevents him from working. He encourages his brother to keep hold of the one woman who is good for him – Phoebe. He is there when the everyman needs him to conjure up their shared, stable childhood. He appears, in short, to lack any flaws in his character. Yet he is not the protagonist of the story. The everyman, with his deep flaws, is the protagonist. Howie’s function then is to show that the everyman is loved and can find support from others. Howie, in his two-dimensional goodness, contrasts with the everyman’s complexities of character.