Character Sketch of Mick in The Caretaker by Harold Pinter

Character Sketch of Mick in The Caretaker by Harold Pinter

Mick is Aston’s younger brother. He is in his late twenties. He suffers from non-communication with his elder brother Aston and seeks the help of an intermediary, Davies, the tramp, to get across to Aston. And when he finds that Davies does not serve his purpose, he discards him even though he had earlier offered him the caretaker’s job in the house that he plans to burn the old, dilapidated house into.

Mick does not come face to face with Aston in the play even though he lives in the same room with him. He enters the room in Aston’s absence but leaves as soon as Aston comes.

All that we come to know about him is that Mick wears a leather jacket, he has a van of his own and he is some kind of construction business. We see him at the end of Act One Scene Two when he finds Davies rummaging through the junk in Aston’s absence. Taking him to be a burglar, Mick seizes Davies’s arm and forces it up his back. Davies screams. He swiftly forces him to the floor, with Davies struggling, grimacing, whimpering and staring. Mick signals him to be quiet. As Davies writhes in pain, Mick picks up his trousers, examines them and throws them at Davies.

Mick cross-examines him about his name and asks him whether he had slept in the room the previous night. Then he starts a cat-and-mouse game with Davies. He is alternately warm and harsh. He gives long narratives about Davies (who gives out his name as Jenkins to him) about Davies resembling first, his uncle’s brother, then having a funny kind of resemblance to a bloke I once knew in Shoreditch,” and finally, accuse him of sleeping in his mother’s bed and “stinking the place out.” He still considers Davies an intruder into the house and he calls him “a fibber” when Davies says that he was brought there by Aston. Finally, Mick tells him:

“You are an old robber, there’s no getting away from it. You’re an old skate. You don’t belong to a nice place like this. You’re an old barbarian. Honest. You got no business wandering about in an unfurnished flat.”

Mick tells Davies what he would charge him for living there. He starts a long spiel on the rent, various other charges and taxes in case Davies wants to stay there. He then asks Davies about his banker and solicitor so that he can draw up the agreement. Aston enters and he offers to tar the roof where it leaks to make the place habitable.

Mick has grandiose plans for renovating the place and when, Aston hands over the bag he has brought for Davies, Mick grabs it and starts tossing it about. This exasperates Davies. Mick warns him.

“Watch your step, sonny!… You’re knocking at the door when no one’s at home. Don’t push it too hard. You come busting into a private house, laying your hands on anything you can lay your hands on. Don’t overstep the mark, son.”

Davies tells Aston that his brother is “a bit of a joker” and that “he tends to see the funny side of things”.

A Prankster

In their next encounter, when Davies comes to the room at night, there is no light. He tries to light a match to find his way through the junk when the match box falls on the floor. Mick, who has been using the electrolux in the dark by plugging it into the light socket, kicks the match box and scares Davies. He find that his knife to defend himself only to find that Mick has been trying to scare him again.

Mick tells Davies that he had been doing spring cleaning his brother/s absence: “We take it in turns, once a fortnight, my brother and me, to give the place a thorough going over. I was working late tonight, I only just got here. But I thought I better get on with it, as it’s my turn.” And then he mischievously tells Davies: “It’s not that I actually live here. I don’t. As a matter of fact, I live somewhere else.” And he invites a grateful Davies to his place some time for drinks and some music after he has apologised to him for giving him “a start”. He pretends to be impressed when Davies him that he can only be purchased so far and no further. He offers Davies a sandwich as a gesture of friendship and grills him about Aston. “You’re my brother’s friend, aren’t you?” But when Davies is diffident about answering the question, Mick is quick to take offence: “Don’t you find him friendly then?”

Mick seeks Davies’ advice by telling him that his brother doesn’t like to work. “He’s just shy of it. Very shy of it…If you got an older brother you want to push him on, you want to see him make his way. Can’t have him idle, he’s only doing himself harm. That’s what I say…He’s supposed to be doing a little job for me…..I keep him here to do a little job for me…I keep him here to do a little job…but I don’t know…I’m coming to the conclusion he’s a slow worker…. What would your advice be?”

Feeling that he has gained Mick’s confidence, Davies tells him that Aston is “a bit of a funny bloke.” But Mick stops him by saying that he is getting hypercritical about his brother, which puts Davies on the defensive. Mick then offers him the job of caretaker of the house (which Aston had also made to him earlier) because “you look a capable sort of man to me.” He asks Davies whether he has been in “the services” and wants references before he can appoint Davies as caretaker, “just to satisfy my solicitor”.

Seeks Davies’s Advice

Davies feels that he has won Mick’s confidence. He starts being offensive to Aston as Mick, is the landlord of the place and he has got “the deed to prove it”. He suggests certain alterations in the room to Mick and starts making demands. He complains against Aston to Mick and his unresponsive attitude, while Mick is planning to turn the place into a penthouse. “It wouldn’t be a flat it’d be a palace.” Mick wants Davies to have a chat with Aston about getting down to work and dispose of all the junk that he has collected. But Davies tells him, “He’s no friend of mine. You don’t know whether you are with him. I mean, with a bloke like you, you know where you are…I means you got your own ways….You may have some funny ways… You’re straight for3ward…..But with him, you don’t know what he’s up to half the time!….He’s got no feeling!” Davies suggests that Mick should himself talk to Aston since he is his brother.

Davies then starts insulting Aston till Aston shows him the door and asks him to leave the house.

Confident that he has Mick on his side, Davies returns with him. He apparently sumpathises with Davies on his plight but when Davies continues complaining against Aston, Mick loses his cool: “You saying my brother hasn’t got any sense ?” He says that he can’t ask Aston to leave even though he is the landlord of the place. “On the other hand, he’s the sitting tenant.” He has to be given proper notice. When Davies refers to Aston’s past mental illness and tells Mick that Aston should be sent to where he came from, i.e., the mental hospital, Mick is offended. Tongue-in-cheek, he asks for Davies’s credentials as an interior decorator before he can start “doing up the place.” But when Davies says that he doesn’t possess any, Mick turns on him. Davies compounds his anger by calling Aston “nutty.” Mick is now furious: “Nutty? Who’s nutty ?…Did you call my brother nutty? My brother. That’s a bit of….that’s a bit of an impertinent thing to say, isn’t it ?… What a strange man you are. Aren’t you? You’re really strange. Ever since you come into this house there’s been nothing but trouble… Most of what you say is lies. You’re violent, you’re erratic, and you’re just completely unpredictable. You’re nothing else but a wild animal, when you come down to it. You’re a barbarian. And to put the old tin lid on it, you stink from arse-hole to breakfast time.”

Mick, like Aston had done earlier, kicks Davies out of the room and returns to his old non-communicative stance with Aston, both the brothers inhabiting worlds of their own.

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