Essay, Pages 11 (2668 words)
The phrase “The standard of living” refers to the level of wealth, comfort, material goods, and necessities. in the story Annabel and Midge play a game called if you had a million dollars, and they disagreed over how they would spend the money. Until they saw the pear necklace, however it costed a quarter of a million dollars, so they changed the game to if you had ten million dollars. I believe that the message that Dorothy Parker was trying to convey is that no matter how rich you are, or if you have everything you need your always going to want more.
And it sheds light on the materialistic society that we live in.
The story “The Standard of Living” makes a statement about the values of our society. Anabel and Midge are obsessed about Money and looking their best. The girls try to imitate millionaires and they dream about being millionaires themselves. The more people that are jealous of them and envy them the better they feel about themselves.
They spend their time walking down Fifth Avenue in New York. This is an important setting in the story, Fifth Avenue is one of the most expensive and elegant streets in the world. It is lined with high end stores and has been nicknamed “Millionaires Row” for the stretch of mansions built on it. it is the perfect setting for two materialistic girls such as, Anabel and Midge. The girls are part of the lower-class society, but they do their best to try and look as though they are high class.
By buying knock-offs of clothing, jewelry, and even food. This caused them to have an increased sense of entitlement. Anabel and Midge treated other as less than equal, they would walk around with their noses up, and go through men like Kleenex.
Another important part of the story was the pearl necklace. It was a beautiful necklace that only someone with wealth would wear or have. When they girls walked into the store, they acted proud, and arrogant. When they found that the necklace was a quarter of a million dollars, the imaginary versions of themselves that created in their heads felt substandard. They walked out of the store feeling inferior. But they quickly bounced back by changing their game to ten million dollars, thus giving their imaginary selves more money. They where shocked that someone could have more money than they imagined themselves to have. Societies values of money and social class distorted their ability to distinguish between standard of living and quality of life.
This story really brought insight into my own life. It made me realize how much we take for granted in our everyday life. I have my own phone, laptop, T.V. and, I own three of my own guitars, when some people don’t even get a meal each day or place to sleep at night. However, I still look at all the things I can’t have and wonder what my life would be like if I had more money. I dream about the type of house I could live in, the car I would drive and the clothes I would wear. And I believe that everybody does this. We all want something that we can’t have. Our society functions on money its how we live. Ever since the binging of time people would trade resources, or labour. Just look at the First Nations and the Europeans. The First Nations traded fur, beads, and crops for metal, guns, and other thing that they did not have access to.
The story the Dancing Bear is about how appearances can be deceiving. How Dieter seems like a defenceless old man and he gets taken advantage of by Mrs.Hax who is supposed to be taking care of him. The bear is supposed to be a metaphor for Dieter and the trainer is Mrs.Hax. Bears come of as mean and scary because they have sharp teeth and claws. Dieter wanted to tell the trainer that maybe the bear is nice and didn’t deserve to be treated the way he was. Just like how Dieter didn’t deserve to be treated horribly by Mrs.Hax.
I believe that the central symbol in Dancing Bear is being misunderstood and abuse. You see this with the way Mrs.Hax treats Dieter. She takes advantage of him and she doesn’t care about how she takes care of Dieter. You can also see this in the second flashback, with the way the trainer treats the bear that is in the cage, the bear is misunderstood and treated horribly.
In the first flashback Dieter and his dad are hunting and his dad shoots a bear. I believe that this relates to the central symbol because Dieters dad shot the bear because he appeared threatening, despite the fact that his dad had know idea whether or not the bear was friendly or mean. In the second flashback Dieter is at the market and he sees a bear in a cage being poorly mistreated by his trainer. This is significant because it replicates the way Mrs.Hax treats Dieter now. Both the bear and Dieter where being mistreated
The next few nights Morley couldn’t sleep. With every little whistle in the wind, or cricket chirping her eyes shoot open. She would leap out of bed and rush over to the window that peered over the backyard searching for the tiniest movement, but she never saw anything. It was days since she last got a restful night’s sleep. Dave wasn’t sleeping much either these days, with his constant worrying about Morley. They barley spoke a word to each other over breakfast, the both of them were using all their energy just to move the coffee cup up to their mouth to take a sip. Later, in the day as Morley was tending to the soil that once held her beloved smoke bush, she was pulled out of her thoughts when she hears her neighbours back door open and out steeped Barbra. Barbra had been Morley and Dave’s neighbour for eight years now, and they had always gotten along very well with Barbra. Barbra had a beautiful garden that she tended to everyday and took pride in it. Morley watched as Barbra walked towards her “what happened their” questioned Barbra, referring to the plot of soil that once held the smoke bus. Someone stole my bush the other night answered Morley, “who could do such a thing” gasped Barbra. Morley shrugged and went back to tending to her gardening.
Later that night, Dave was sitting on the front porch smoking his cigar, Morley didn’t let him smoke in the house because she didn’t like the smell of them. Dave didn’t mind sitting outside though he liked the cool breeze and silence. A pair of headlights caught Dave’s attention, he recognized the car immediately and watched as it pulled into Barbra’s driveway. Out stepped Emil, Dave gave him a little nod and wave to greet him and Emil waved back as he stepped into the house. Emil is Barbra’s son he was a well taught young man who was kind to everyone around him. Dave use to hire Emil to do work for him like shoveling snow, cleaning rain gutters, and helping to fix things. Dave and Morley knew Emil well. He had moved away to college this past year, it was only an hour away so every Friday he would drive down and have dinner with his mother and spend the night. Every Friday night Dave would watch as Emil would into his mother’s driveway, and they would give each other a quick wave. And Every Saturday morning as Morley was tending to the flowers out front, she would stop and talk to Emil on his way out. Emil would talk about school and Morley would talk about whatever was current in her life, and about the hardware store that Dave owned. They had thee same routine since Emil started college, which is why Morley thought it was weird on Saturday morning when she had finished tending to her flowers, she noticed that Emil had not yet left. She walked over to Barbra’s house to make sure everything was okay.
Emil answered the door he looked excited to see Morley “Hello, Mrs. Singer how are you this morning?” Emil asked. “I’m fine, how are you today Emil?” questioned Morley. “I’m also fine” exclaimed Emil. “actually, I was just about to come over and ask you for a favor Mrs. Singer” Morley thought that Emil was acting strange like he was excited and nervous at the same time ”what was the favour you wanted to ask me?” wondered Morley. “I was hoping that you would accompany me and mother this evening I wanted to show the two of you something?” Morley agreed to go, she was curious about what Emil wanted to show her. That evening Morley walked over to Barbra’s house to meet her and Emil.
All three of them got in the car and Emil started driving. They kept small talk Morley would glance out the window every so often, but she noticed that Emil was heading towards the south side of town. This made Morley nervous, she had heard awful things about this part of town. She heard that this was a place filled criminals like drug dealers, and violent people. She never wanted to travel here. Emil stopped the car and the three of them got out. Morley looked around and she saw a park, not a nice park. The slide was broken, and monkey bars were rusting, there were no kids playing in it however there were three teenage boys huddled around together and Morley noticed that they were holding a bottle. Emil lead the two women over to a fenced area “I started working on this a few days ago and I thought you two could help me with it” explained Emil. He opened the gate and Morley was surprised to see a beautiful garden sitting inside, and in the corner, she saw her smoke bush. “you where the one who stole my smoke bush” shouted Morley, she was angry and hurt that Emil would do something like this. “I’m sorry, I just thought that it was a beautiful bush and I wanted to put it in this garden” Emil stated. “what is this?” asked Barbra as she looked around the garden. “I thought that I would put together this garden for the community, something for the kids to do instead of getting into trouble. I want to be able to help kids who don’t have anybody, and I thought that you two would help me with this.” Morley was still mad that Emil would steal from her, but she also liked the idea of helping others and at least this way she can still take care of her bush. So, both she and Barbra would go down to that same park and help with the garden and spend time with the kids. They knew that one garden wasn’t going to completely change the community but they where happy to make a difference in just a few kids lives.
The story Dancing Bear by Guy Vanderhaeghe is about appearances and how people make assumptions about others. Dieter was being mistreated by Mrs.Hax because to her Dieter was just an old man who she could take advantage of. Much like in Dieters second flashback when the bear was being mistreated by his trainer. To the trainer the bear was just some animal that looked threating. He never considered that the bear had feelings. Both Dieter and the bear were being mistreated by the person who was supposed to be taking care of them, because of their appearance. I can relate to Dieter and the bear, because I also get treated differently by grandparents then the rest of my cousins do. I have three cousins who live in Victoria and they are clearly my grandparent’s favorite grandkids, and its not just me who thinks this. They go above and beyond for them, they’re always bragging on Facebook about them. Whereas with me they don’t do the same. My grandma travelled down to Victoria to go to my cousins Graduation, but with my graduation she didn’t show up. Also, my grandpa had this rule for ten years that if you graduate from High School, he would buy you a laptop as a gift. He did it for everybody, but when I graduated from high school last year the rule change to if your going to college. Which didn’t make sense to me since my brother got one and he didn’t go to college. I wasn’t upset about not getting a laptop, I was upset that my cousin who also did not go to college and graduated a year early than me got one. It felt as though he was saying that I wasn’t as important. Those are just some of the ways that feel mistreated by my grandparents.
The social satire in this is when Lena kills her baby and Ella accuses her of murder when Ella basically did the same thing that Lena did. The difference between these two was money and reason. Lena couldn’t afford an abortion and she couldn’t afford to raise a child, so she was left with only one option. Ella however, had the money to raise a child but chose not to because she didn’t want anything to get in her way of her trip. It seems worse to other that Lena had to kill her child herself, whereas Ella paid somebody else to do it for her. We see that Ella did the same thing as Lena possibly worse.
The story contains only two black people in both cases they worked for Ella who was white. This reminded me of how black people use to have to work for white people has their maids or their handyman or butler, because these were the only jobs they could get. Also, both Lena and Thomasi were poor which is a stereotype of black people. Another example would be when Lena killed her baby. Ella had done the same thing but only Lena was viewed as a monster.
The title is ironic because when you read you think that it will be a happy story and that a happy event will occur in the story. But the happy event that I believe the title is referring to is when Lena kills her baby which is a sad event and not a happy one.
One of the ironies that I noticed in this story is at the begging Ella gave Lena an old nightgown of hers. This was the nightgown that Ella wore during her abortion, and Lena would then later wrap her dead baby in. its ironic because it was used when both Lena and Ella killed their babies. Also, Ella was disconcerted that Lena could kill her baby when Ella did the same thing. Its also ironic that Lena killed her baby because she couldn’t take care of it and to keep her job where she takes care of Ella’s kids. Its also ironic how Ella thought that black people from the same tribe would get along but they don’t always.
When Thomasi is telling Ella how much he dislikes Lena (in the beginning) Ella disregards it and continues to live in her safe little bubble. When Ella finds out that Lena had a newborn baby and killed it, buried it under a tin all to keep her job, Ella is rattled how horrible someone could be without you knowing it.
In the photograph you see two basketball players one black and one white. I believe that what the artist was trying to show here is two people who look different have that same interest and enjoy doing the same thing. This tells us that appearance and looks don’t matter and that people should focus more on peoples personality rather than their appearance.