The Violence and Villains of Little Orphan Annie

Mr. Mack

The Haunted House sequence with Mr. Mack is really the first story in which Gray makes strong use of intrigue and suspense. Annie seems as if she is constantly looking over her shoulder, and with good reason. Mack, we assume, is a ruthless murderer and head of a ring of gangsters. Gray set up a vigilantly watchful mood through Annie, who seems to be the only person who suspects Mr. Mack. It is her suspicions which create our suspicions. Though Gray permits the reader to see more than Annie can, he nonetheless maintains our interest as he makes us the voyeur, watching Annie watching Mr. Mack, who in turn watches Annie. It is as if we, the reader, are given our own tree or wall to hide behind, allowing us to watch all of the action.

The Voyeur

This is the first story in which Gray portrays the general populace as gullible fools who are easily won over by the villain. One good deed seems to be enough to wipe out any suspicions by "simple town folk." If that villain happens to have money, suspicions never seem to arise at all, until the end of the story when the villain is caught or killed. Annie always knows when a villain is a villain, and the reader always knows when a villain is a villain. But the simple town folk? They never seem to get it. In the beginning of a story such as the Haunted House sequence, the town folk praise the villainous character to the heavens, only to become "I told you so'ers" by the story's end. This device gave Annie and Gray a great foil to work against, in terms of rationalizing someone's behavior. The townspeople became the sounding board for Annie to bounce her thoughts and ideas off of. Gray's own message about the fickle general public came out loud and clear.

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