Mount Alvernia High School, Newton, Massachusetts
Nora  Barrett

Link to Nora Barrett's Senior Art Thesis

The Misuse of Power by Characters in Robert Cormierís Novels

J. Edgar Hooverís Misuse of Political Power

Robert  Cormier

J. Edgar Hoover developed the reputation among many observers as one of the most powerful and corrupt leaders of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Born in 1895 in Washington, D.C., shortly after the death of an infant sister, Hooverís mother always encouraged him to excel. As a child, Hoover was socially awkward, and therefore put all his effort into school. His education and ambition was shown through accomplishments such as publishing a town newspaper by the time he was eleven years old. As an adult, he held several positions in government service. He achieved his highest position of all, Director of the FBI, in 1924. Out of a desire to gain a good reputation, Hoover used his high intelligence to manipulate and intimidate those he identified as enemies. He targeted Martin Luther King Jr., illegally used wiretaps, and kept secret files called dossiers on powerful figures in American society. Observersí opinions of Hoover were frequently negative. Some psychologists even suggested that mental illness caused his personality flaws. Whatever the reason, J. Edgar Hoover misused his power as Director for his own political and personal benefit.

Similar to J. Edgar Hooverís misuse of his political power, the main characters in Robert Cormierís suspense novels also depict a misuse of power. In the novel The Rag and Bone Shop Carl misuses his power by murdering an innocent couple in their own home for his own bizarre pleasure, while Detective Trent misuses his power by convincing Jason to confess to a murder he did not commit. Similarly, in the novel In the Middle of the Night Lu-Lu misuses her power by inflicting pain on Denny and his father, because she feels Dennyís father inflicted pain upon her. Robert Cormierís depiction of the misuse of power reveals that humans inflict pain on others in order to relieve the pain they feel themselves.

Major Works Consulted:

Cormier, Robert. In the Middle of the Night . New York: Bantam Doubleplay Dell, 1995. ---. The Rag and Bone Shop. New York: Random, 2001.
Hack, Richard. Puppetmaster The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover. Beverly Hills: New Millenium, 2004.
Summers, Anthony. Official and Confidential The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover. New York: Putnamís, 1993.
Photo Credit: Cormier, Robert. In the Middle of the Night. New York: Bantam Doubleplay Dell, 1995.