Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography: the Role of Keimer Essay example

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In Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography, Samuel Keimer is a character who represents the antithesis of Franklin. The development of Keimer not only improves the reader's understanding of the minor character, but also of Franklin, the major character. Franklin makes a point of showing the reader each of Keimer's faults and contrasting them with his own merits.<br><br>When Keimer is first introduced to the reader, he is in very much the same circumstances as Franklin; they are two young men trying to make a fresh start in a new town, the only difference being Keimer's economic, and thereby social, advantage. In comparison to Franklin, however, Keimer is a flawed and immoral man; this difference is what makes him the ideal model for Franklin to …show more content…
Keimer, even though he is in tremendous debt at one point, takes both Saturday and Sunday off from work at a time when the six-day workweek is standard practice. Also, as he is disconnected from the inner-workings of the printing house, Keimer is unable to keep his underpaid, unmotivated staff working diligently. Franklin remarks that part of his job is to "put his Printing-House in Order, which had been in great Confusion, and brought his Hands by degrees to mind their Business and to do it better" (BFA 42). An example of Franklin's opinion of one of Keimer's workers is that he is "idle, thoughtless and imprudent to the last Degree" (BFA 43). Only the short time that Ben Franklin works for Keimer is the printing house well run. Finally, Keimer has a problem with the tenth virtue, Cleanliness, as he is described by Franklin as "slovenly to extreme dirtiness" (BFA 45). Franklin, however, takes pride in his appearance as shown by his embarrassment of his "awkward ridiculous Appearance" (BFA 20) on his original arrival in Philadelphia. Ben also takes the time to remark on his dress when returning to Boston: "I was better dress'd than ever while in [Keimer's] Service, having a genteel new Suit from Head to foot" (BFA 24). The lack of these seven virtues – Temperance, Silence, Order, Resolution, Industry, Moderation, and Cleanliness – helps to bring about Keimer's failure and forces him to sell the printing-house and move