North and South: John Thornton [ESTJ 8w9]

Function Order: Te-Si-Ne-Fi

“You are doing more harm than good with your basket if you prolong the strike.”

– John Thornton

John is a businessman who views even ‘moral’ decisions through a lens of tactical advantage and whether it is practical; unlike many of the other mill workers, he has installed a wheel in his mill to keep the fluff off his employees, because “if their health is better, they will work for me longer… their children will work for me longer.” When Margaret’s INFP father suggests that it is also “the most moral decision, surely,” John shakes his head and argues that it is practicality alone. He efficiently handles problems, bringing in the Irish to keep his mill running during a month-long strike that financially threatens to close them all down, arguing with Margaret against providing food baskets to strike families (he says she is prolonging their misery by keeping them from returning to work, which will only hurt everyone in the long term), and later, installing a cafeteria within his mill, because “if men eat well, they work well.” He has a strong sense of duty and obligation, but can also be blunt, tactless, and unwilling to compromise. John doesn’t believe in speculation, telling his mother that if the venture went through, no one would know they had risked the payroll on it, but if it failed, they wouldn’t be able to pay their employees’ wages—and he considers that a violation of his principles. He works hard to erase his father’s mistakes, allow his mother to live in comfort ‘according to her age,’ and is prone to workaholic behaviors. Thornton also judges people based on his previous interactions with them, and often refuses to let them come back to work if he knows them to be irresponsible or a troublemaker. He assumes because Nicholas has caused problems with the union in the past that him staying late is him scheming behind John’s back, although he’s also willing to reverse his position, think better of people in the long term, and give them second chances. His own intuition is poor—he easily believes his mother’s convictions that Margaret is in love with him, only to get blindsided by the realization that she despises him. He also assumes the worst of her in her midnight assignation at the train station, and feels enormous relief to learn months later that she was not being improper, but concealing her brother’s presence due to his problems with the Navy. It takes John a while to connect to his own emotions, though he often moodily feels misunderstood and persecuted in the face of Margaret’s harsh feeling-based judgments.

Enneagram: 8w9 sp/so

The men who work for the union call him a ‘fighter,’ and say that John Thornton will never back down, show weakness, or give anyone what they want if it goes against his own conscience. John cares less about the ‘morality’ of his actions than asserting himself. He is often more rational and practical than the other mill workers, pointing out that you should ‘tell the men straight off’ that they won’t be getting a raise, rather than running the risk of letting them hope in vain only to dash their expectations. Margaret’s assertions that he is a coward who ought to talk to the mob force him to go outside and expose himself to danger; he attempts to forcefully remove her into the house, when he believes she might get hurt. He admits that he has a fierce temper, and he often does not keep it—beating up a man who has lit up a cigarette in the mill (because it could kill them all), lashing out at Margaret when she refuses his proposal, and telling her bluntly that he doesn’t care to hear anything she has to say. But his 9 wing also hates conflict, tries to smooth things over where he can, and runs away from some fights rather than sticks around—he argues at one point that everyone should sit down together and learn to respect each other’s opinions, and he isn’t for unnecessarily aggravating a crowd.