What I first noticed about Wellborn’s character was his description: ‘a prodigal’. The only other time I’ve heard the term ‘prodigal’ is from the Bible passage in the New Testament. Both Wellborn and the unnamed son personify the word ‘prodigal’ in that they squandered away the wealth and inheritance given to them by their fathers. However, that is where the similarities end. The son from the Bible passage returned home to his father in a state of remorse. The most notable point in the parable is that the father doesn’t punish or disown his son, but welcomes him with open arms. Unfortunately, Wellborn did not have this opportunity.
Wellborn’s father had passed away and he didn’t have any other relatives to turn to. His uncle, Overreach wanted nothing to do with him. He had to raise himself up from his own efforts and what is extremely commendable of him was that he didn’t accept the charity of others. If he was to atone for his past mistakes, he wanted to do it honorably. I found this a pleasant surprise after being introduced to him in a negative light by the other characters.
It’s interesting to find such a clear character to root for while in many of the other plays we’ve read, it is not so easy. Even the fact the Overreach was made to act so evil shows the playwrights intention at making transparent characters. Even to the end when Wellborn has gained access to a comfortable lifestyle again, he chooses to serve as a soldier. In both cases, the sons are able to turn over a new leaf. The title brings justice to a another take of a prodigal son, A New Way to Pay Old Debts.