Would you risk your own life and the lives of another 400 people just so you might have a chance at saving a coffee plantation? Well that’s what Leiningen did in the short story “Leiningen Versus the Ants”. And by doing so he has proved himself to be an over confident, persuasive, and sexist man. And is not a person to be admired.
In this story Leiningen has shown himself as an extremely over confident person. From the time he was aware of the impending danger of the ants, to when he was almost willing to give it all up he still believed that he could conquer them. This is show on the very first page of the story where Leiningen says “Decent of you, paddling all this way just to give me the tip. But you’re pulling my leg of course when you say I must do a bunk. Why, even a herd of saurians couldn’t drive me from this plantation of mine.” A second sign of his over confidence is when he says “And don’t think I’m the kind of fathead who tries to fend lightning off with my fists, either. I use my intelligence, old man. With me, the brain isn’t a second blind gut; I know what it’s there for. When I began this model farm and plantation three years ago, I took into account all that could conceivably happen to it. And now I’m ready for anything and everything—including your ants.” These two statements show him as thinking he has planned for the worst and knows all that lies ahead of him but in truth, he knows the least of what will actually happen to him and his plantation.
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Leiningen has also shown himself to be a very persuasive person. Although he gave his workers the right to walk away, he knew they were so loyal to him that they wouldn’t leave him in his time of need. This is shown when he says, “Well, lads, we’ve lost the first round. But we’ll smash the beggars yet, don’t you worry. Anyone who thinks otherwise can draw his pay here and now and push off. There are rafts enough and to spare on the river and plenty of time to still reach ‘em.” The choice was all theirs, but they were bought into the fact of security and higher wages if they stayed with Leiningen, and that was good enough for the peons.
And the last major characteristic that was apparent was that Leiningen was a sexist man. In the beginning of the story he stated, “Act of God, my eye! Anyway, I’m not an old woman; I’m not going to run for it just because an elemental’s on the way.” And he later said, “Critical situations first become crises, when oxen or women get excited.” These two statements show that Leiningen thinks of himself to be more important that any woman or beast. He believes that he is helping the situation by sending the oxen and women away, but by today’s standards he is being sexist by degrading women with his remarks, and excluding them from the fight where they could have been very useful.
Through these three characteristics, Leiningen has been proven to be an over all ‘normal’ person according to today’s society. He believes himself to be powerful, and in control that most people like to believe they are. He is also a very persuasive person; he can change the mind of 400 of his workers even if it meant putting their lives in danger. And he was also a very sexist man, which like many men in society today think they are worth more than women, even though as most know, we are all equal. And as far as I see it, Leiningen is no hero. He is no man to be admired.