Rags to riches is a cliche often brought up in stories of triumph. In Money and Class in America:The Gilded Cage, it is portrayed that there is a possible reversal, resulting in riches to rags. The author offers a birds eye view of the wealthy American people, while commenting on the imperfections of their lifestyle. The author, a Yale graduate, explains his encounter with a man with a pseudonym of George Armory. Privilege was prominent in both the author and Armory’s families. Inheritance is he key factor in both stories of wealth. The Author, a knowingly wealthy man, was simply more mindful than his wealthy counterparts. His grandfather became the mayor of San Fransisco and previously had power of business. This mapped out a childhood of casual rides in limousines and extravagant outings.
Despite the amount of money he had in his youth, and continued wealth, he was able to reflect on his surroundings. George Armory was planning on inheriting a large amount of wealth from his grandparents. The highlight of their privilege was that they never had to worry about working, or make a name for themselves; they were born into a top tier lifestyle. George never prioritized or went through the mental processes of deciphering how to maintain such a life style, and what he might have to actually make of himself. This close encounter with a fellow privileged man allowed the author to create a “big picture” look at America’s wealth at the time.
Life was coated in gold, for some, literally. The affluent had two jobs, one being their actual money making profession (if it is not inheritance), and maintaining the image. Image often says more about a person’s standing in society than the true effect they have. George Armory’s expenses were blatantly laid out. If one is born with the right name, this kind of wealth is breed into him. The author explains the schooling, “nurtured social rather than intellectual pretensions” ( Latham 13). There is an existing expectation that even though they are better off than most americans, yet they still must compete within their own socioeconomic status.
George explains this when he expresses disbelief that, “he allocated nothing for luxury or pleasure, no money for dinner parties, for paintings, for furniture, for a mistress, for psychiatrists, even for a week in Europe” (Latham 12). Living in luxury was not only an expectation, but a requirement to be respected in the wealthy community. Because he was overly occupied maintaining a high profile, he was unable to attain stability within himself. If the same money were given to a born middle class family, who could spend wisely, they would survive comfortably.
The rich are sectioned off by who is better of, of the better off. This pressure outweighs any benefit money can have. Being born is a privilege, but it can cost more than it is worth to some. The Wealthy inherit a name that has monetary connotation,while the poor inherit a life of struggle and minimal chance. The author explains this when he addresses, “Together with my classmates and peers, I was given to understand that it was sufficient accomplishment merely to have been born” (Latham 14). The wealthy are taught how to use mannerisms to manurer their social class. the same advantage is not given to the poor.
Cohesively, I feel as if I have learned something that I would never know for myself. The wealthy remain a secret of america, but in this book they are revealed. It is a privilege to begin life into wealth. Moving among social classes is highly challenging, which is why the wealthy are safe, with few exceptions. There are parts of me that feel uneasy about this; I strongly believe that people should work for what they attain, but if my dad worked hard I would assume that I inherit some of wealth. Living in a capitalistic society there are no boundaries to one’s successes or failures. The reading announced a level of disparity to me, that will forever ring while meeting new people and networking.
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Topic: The Gilded Cage
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