"Consumerism Comparison" Essay

1279 words - 6 pages

This ia an analysis essay covering both john cheevers "the enormous radio" and Juliet b schor's "the culture of consumerism. Basically points from the culture of consumerism are used to back up the ideas of consumerism in "the enormous radio." This is a descent essay, that should provide good ideas about consumerism, and demonstrates how to use ideas from authors to bring up points in another authors work.11/1/03The Enormous Radio is a parable about excess consumerism in many ways that reaffirm schor's observations in, "The culture of Consumerism." When we first encounter the Westcotts they resemble the average income middle class people who spend what they work for, and dream big. They have ...view middle of the document...

They own a beat up old radio, and Jim decides that an upgrade would make Irene happy. I do not feel that this specific purchase is based on a form of consumerism, but is based instead on a viable quality of life standpoint, the same as how someone with a love of cooking might purchase high end cookware. I do though feel that the purchase of such an elaborate piece of equipment might have been over the top considering anewer replacement radio would have sufficed.This new radio is not what it was presumed to be though. Irene quickly discovers its inherent ability to magically broadcast the happenings of other apartments over a myriad of stations. She decides her time would be best spent peering into the lives of others with it, and she begins seeing all the unhappiness usually hidden behind closed doors. She no longer values what she did the same, and even skips over a recording of the "Missouri Waltz," to listen secretively to conversations over breakfast in other apartments. Schor suggests that looking at the lives of others, and comparing ourselves with them, can make us question our self worth. Even when the person or family of comparison has a substantially different income, the principal is the same. This is precisely what afflicts Irene after peering into the lives of her neighbors through what I would call a voyeuristic reality show. She is then prompted to ask Jim, "our lives aren't sordid, are they, darling? Are they? Were happy Darling, Aren't we?" I believe she would have never had a doubt as to her own happiness if she had not begun to compare her families standing to that of her neighbors. She saw how even the wealthy would come home upset, cry, curse in the home or just be unhappy in general. Irene and Jims' dream was to eventually move into the upscale neighborhood of Westchester, but what was it all for if the people who were already upscale could not find happiness in there six slot toasters, albino Bengal tigers, and self cleaning ovens?Jim purchased the large, homely radio for four hundred dollars, and he realized that it was far more than what he could afford, but wanted to make the sacrifice for Irene. "It's the last extravagance we will be able to indulge this year," Jim remarks about the purchase. Just as Schor observed, families may even see the problem dead in the eyes, and choose to spend the money regardless. Irene seems to have some of the same tendencies as Jim, and it was apparent when she...

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