Friday, February 7, 2014

Class Consciousness- Goodbye, Columbus

Chapter 1
The division of class is a huge theme in the book, Goodbye, Columbus. Those from Newark want nothing to do with the rich class in the suburbs and vice versa. Those in the suburbs look down to the people in Newark. Neil drives out of Newark "past Irvington and the packed-in tangle of railroad crossings, switchmen shacks, lumberyards, Dairy Queens, and used-car lots" (8). Neil is describing the streets of Newark and how they are not as nice as the ones in Short Hills. Then he continues to say, "It was, in fact, as though the hundred and eighty feet that the suburbs rose in altitude above Newark brought one closer to heaven..." (8). The suburbs rise above Newark, showing who has power. Clearly Short Hills is above Newark, physically and in social class. The city does not want them to interfere with their life style, as the suburbs do not want the city interfering with them. The suburbs refuses "to share the very texture of life with those of us outside" (8). This is showing that the suburbs want the people who live in the city to stay in the city. They do not want to share their wealth with them in any way. The poor stays the poor, and the weathy stays wealthy. Lastly, as Neil drives out of the city, he says how "the map of the City Streets of Newark had metamorphosed into crickets..." (8). Neil wants to be out of his life in the city. He wants to be one of the wealthy people in short hills of the high class. As he goes out of the city, he hopes that he can maybe leave that life behind him and convert to the different class and style of life. 

Chapter 2
On page 26, Brenda explains to Neil what her family thinks of money. She says that money is a waste for her mom. "She doesn't even know how to enjoy it. She still thinks we live in Newark." This clearly explains the difference between classes. Brenda's mom doesn't even appreciate her money and that is stereotypical of the upper class. She then continues to say how she thinks we live in Newark and that kind of offends Neil because that is not what how it is in Newark. Brenda gets what she wants while Neil doesn't. Neil is a part of the lower class and they appreciate the money they have.  

Chapter 3
Niel is at the Patimkin house all alone with just Julie. He decides to explore the greatness of the house. He is shocked by how nice it is. It is polar opposites with the house he lives in in Newark. He walks down into the basement. It was a comforting basement with a coolness that the rest of the house did not have. He was not surprised at "the pine paneling, the bamboo furniture, the ping-pong table, and the mirrored bar that was stocked with every kind and size of glass, ice bucket, decanter, mixer, swizzle stick, shot glass, pretzel bowl- all the bacchanalian it can only be in the bar of a wealthy man who never entertains drinking people..." (41/2). The basement is super nice. It has everything a wealthy family would have. Neil enjoys this aspect of the house and I believe that his character enjoys seeing the differences between their two families. Neil would never have any of this in his house and he knows that because he is not the upper class as the Patimkin family is. He sees a tall, old refrigerator with an ancient presence and it reminds him of his house in Newark. Until he opens it and sees every fresh fruit and vegetable. No longer did it remind him of Newark. But it just shows the more differences there are between the classes and how distinct people can see them in their every day lives. 

Chapter 4
Neil has been invited to go on a week long vacation with the Patimkins. Aunt Gladys does not know how she feels about that because she does not want the food to go to waste and she does not want to lose Neil. If Brenda were going with Neil, I would think that her parents would not care about the food or anything else, because they know she will come back due to their life style. That life style represents the upper class and they have a different family dynamic than Neil's family. Neil lives with his aunt and uncle and his parents live in Tuscan. This confuses Brenda, on page 49, because she could never think about leaving her parents right now because they nurture her very well. Aunt Gladys lets Neil go on vacation and Neil thinks about how he had come a long way since that day she said "fancy-shmancy to him on the phone (57). Their lives are different and both Aunt Gladys and Neil understand that. 

Chapter 5
In chapter 5, Neil is staying at the Patimkin's house. As he is unpacking his clothes, Ron is in the room. "I have one shirt with a Brooks Brothers label and I let it linger on the bed a while.." (63). Neil makes sure that Ron can see his nice, brand labeled clothes. Brooks Brothers is a very nice brand of clothing and he wants to make it clear to Ron that he is able to be a part of their "upper class" life style. He wants to conform to them and leave his "lower class" life style in Newark, as we have seen other times in the book like chapter 1 as I explained before when he was first leaving Newark for the suburbs. He wants to make it clear that he wants to be a part of the Patimkin's and their rich way of living. By letting his Brooks Brothers shirt linger, Ron can know this. He is basically showing Ron, "oh look, I can have these fancy clothes too." Later, when Brenda and Neil go running, Neil thinks, "She meant, I was sure, that I was somehow beginning to look the way she wanted me to. Like herself" (70). Neil is dressed just like Brenda, in khaki bermudas and sweatshirts, sneakers and sweat socks, and by this, he is showing her, just like he showed Ron that he wants to be like her. He wants to be in the upper class. This is showing that Neil is starting to conform to their society and life style, he is becoming like her. He wants to be in it. 

Chapter 6, 7 & 8
The Patimkin wedding is just around the corner and Harriet, Brenda, and Mrs. Patimkin have a lot of shopping to do. Because they have a lot of money, the wedding must be elegant, where as if a less wealthy family was getting married they would not spend so much money on decorations and everything else. Brenda tells Neil, "we're going to New York today. Shopping. She's going to buy a wedding dress. For after the wedding. To go away in" (85). I thought this was very interesting because usually people have one wedding dress. But since the Patimkin's are a big part of the upper class, not only does Harriet need a wedding dress, but another fancy dress to wear after the wedding to go away in. This would not happen in the lower class. The life styles are very different and their weddings would also be very different. 

At Mr. Patimkin's shop, he controls his workers all day with little break. He shouts at them and gives them directions. "People did not sit at Patimkin Sink- here you earned your money the hard way, standing up" (92). The workers have to work very hard to earn their money. They work all day as well. Most of the workers are negroes of the lower class. They work hard for their money where Mr. Patimkin, the owner, does not work hard. He is a part of the upper class. This is showing how people in the lower class have to work harder and longer for their money. People of the upper class do not, a lot of the money comes from fancy business jobs, where they sit at a desk all day or from family. It again proves how different the lifestyles are of the upper and lower class. 

1 comment:

  1. Jamie, good ideas here throughout these responses.
    List of props and class markers not included, except tangentially.