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The standard of living


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The standard of living

  1. 1. The Standard of Living by Dorothy Parker The Standard of Living was written by Dorothy Parker in 1941, the story first publishedin The New Yorker. This story describes in detail the way of living of two friends. This storyuses third person point of view. The narrator is the third person that knows everything in thisstory which known as omniscient. The narrator is all knowing about each character and tellthoughts and feeling for all character in The Standard of Living. Introduction of this story describes about two girls who are close friends. They areAnnabel and Midge. Both of them live with their family and work in the same office in Americaas the stenographer. They have many similarities life such as they have same favorite foods, theyhave same skin like the petals of wood anemones and they have same styles in movement. Theyalso have same fat bellies and lean flanks. According to the narrator, those two girls are alike inshape for they are living. They have the same hope. The rising action happened when Annabel had created or invented a new game. Midgebecame not as Annabel in manner, behavior, or hope. Annabel played a new game, she asked aquestion: “What you would do if you had a million dollars?” Midge answered that she wants to buy mink coat, then Annabel was disagree because oftheir ultimate dream is they want to buy pearls. Because such different desired they did not speakeach other. Here where the climax is started in this short stories. Falling action occurred on one fine day when Midge change her mind and she want to geta string of pearls. They walked on Fifth Avenue and entered the shop to buy the string of pearls.The cost of the pearls was too expensive. The price of the pearls was two hundred and fifty 1
  2. 2. thousand dollars around a quarter of a million dollars. Finally, they threw away their ultimatedesire and began to make a new dream again. There is no resolution in this short story, becausethe narrator never gives a definite ending and let it to the reader in deciding what will happennext. This is called open plot. The first paragraph of this short story shows a vivid image of foods painted throughwords. This can be noted on how Parker use words to portray clear character of Annabel andMidge. There are four characters in this story which are Annabel, Midge, Sylvia, the door manand a clerk from the pearl shops. Annabel and Midge represent round character because theauthor developed their role in the whole of story. Sylvia and a clerk from the jewelry shops fallunder flat character because their roles are not expanding. A door man and Mrs. Gary Cooper areabsent character in this short story. This story happened in some places. There are happened in tea room, office, in front ofshop window, Fifth Avenue and jewelry shop. The situation occurred mostly on afternoon whenAnnabel and Midge have their lunched together. The author mentioned it happened onSeptember by phrase, “It was one of those days with which September is repeatedly cursed;hot and glaring, with slivers of dust in the wind”. The condition of Annabel and Midge shows that they are happy, fun, dare and tightnessin this story line. Happy, fun and dare are proven by their desire to dream something beyondtheir capabilities. Tightness arises when Annabel and Midge have different opinion in spending amillions of dollar and Annabel feel disappointed. There are some conflicts arise in this short story. First conflict is between Annabel andMidge. It’s happened when Midge disagree with Annabel idea to buy silver fox-coat. Secondconflict is arising in Annabel herself because she creates her problem by arranging the 2
  3. 3. imagination question and makes herself confuse. The next conflict is Midge versus herself.Midge is like Annabel believing in imagination and glamour lifestyle. The theme appeared from this short stories are friendship, dream’s of the future,comparison between illusion and reality and social classes. The bond ties between Annabel andMidge through their similar interest in lifestyle shows the friendship value in this short stories.The relationship are bound strongly even there are some disagreement arise. Both of them stilldependence on each other and spend most of the time during afternoon and evening together.From the strong relationship, Annabel and Midge share the same dream for the future. Theirdream not only to have large amount of money when Annabel invented the game, but also toprepare themselves in climbing up to one new level of their social classes. Once entering thejewelry shop and asking the question about the prices of doubled robed pearls, both of themrealised the prices costly quarters of millions which means in reality one millions of dollar arestill not enough in making them rich person. This situation of Annabel and Midge provide theconcept of social class. Pearls can be seen as a symbol of confidence and a superior social class.The make-ups, the coats, the dresses and places such Fifth Avenue may represent classes ofsociety with an atmosphere filled with rich, glitz and glamour. Julie Duffy (2011) describes The Standard of Living by Dorothy Parker is a fabulousexample of a author can flesh out a story whose plot is basically a build up to a simple phrasewith humor effects and turn it into something that stays with the reader. Parker uses descriptivewriting method in her short story. For example in the below phrases is a first paragraph of theshort story, Parker starts with an ordinary word to describe sweetness and luscious of the food:“They lunched, as was their wont, on sugar, starches, oils, and butter-fats. Usually they atesandwiches of spongy new white bread greased with butter and mayonnaise; they ate thick 3
  4. 4. wedges of cake lying wet beneath ice cream and whipped cream and melted chocolate,gritty with nuts. As alternates, they ate patties, sweating beats of inferior oil, containingbits of bland meat bogged in pale stiffening sauce…” In books of The Critical Waltz: Essays on The Work of Dorothy Parker explains the shortstory of The Standard of Living as an innocent young girl which represented by Annabel andMidge. Both of them are young working girl who fancies themselves as a glamorous beauty.Annabel and Midge play role as naive young women in this short story, they are perceived aslaughable by glamour set. Readers are laughing not only at their innocent in admiration of one’sappearance but also at the value system influence them. The lifestyles explain in this short story are exist until now even this short stories havebeen written almost 71 years. The ideas of materialism, hedonism, glamour of life and selfindulgence are developed in Annabel and Midge role. Hedonism and materialism allows humansto enjoy in their own life without thinking others. The women are vain and superficial and whatmakes this story so great is when the same value system is in place today. Annabel and Midgeare more concerned with their status in society than the people surround them. The main ideas for level hierarchy society are evolves and expanding within decades andvalid till today represent by Parker a way of life for millionaires is better compare to middle classpeoples. It’s influence the lower level of society in climbing up the stage to the superior level ofsociety. The Standard of Living generates emotions of desired lifestyles and attitudes togetherwith the beauty emotion from perfect daydream. It’s obvious theyre only wishing andpretending behind their fine clothes and manners. Using Annabel and Midge, Parker shows usthat greedy, if allowed to develop, never ceases but grows. Dorothy Parker describes the values,dreams, and aspirations in todays materialistic society. Annabel and Midge are full obsessed 4
  5. 5. with money. The girls spend so many hours imagine about being millionaires. Their love ofmoney is not only fueled by the materialistic products they can buy with it but they pretend to bein high class society and act like them. Humans are trapped in their lifestyles, backgrounds and professions. The Standard ofLiving being read is actual a sort of paradox, satire and logic in a reality. Everyone in society hasan opportunity to be wealthy, but is the cost of a high salary and the responsibilities somethingmost all people are willing to pay? In a real life, every career and the way of earn living has itsown challenging. For Annabel and Midge, they desire jobs with prestige, power, and wealth.Being rich doesn’t mean the burden of their tasks are less but, in actuality superior society needto maintain their wealth and stressful for them. The story to be very humorous and the narratorhave a very sly wit about herself. It is amazing in the final paragraph the character consistentlystayed hopeful and positive even up to the end of the story even the characters are unable toachieve what they want out of life. Finally, pretending to be someone else is difficult. Climbing up to other class of societynever be wrong, but must be in a realistic way and through the right path. It’s not working if onlyimagine and act like high class society. There are no efforts in changing their life to better way oflife. The result will be disappointed and there are no movement and still stand where theybelong. The Standard of Living might be used as a motivation for middle class society to have abetter life in a future. 5
  6. 6. References Crane, Milton. (Eds.). (1971). Fifty Great Short Stories. United States of America, USA: Bantam Dell. Duffy, Julie. (2011). Tuesday Reading Room – The Standard Of Living by Dorothy Parker. Retrieved from standard-of-living-by-dorothy-parker/ S. Pettit, Rhonda. (Eds.). (2010). The Critical Waltz: Essays on The Work of Dorothy Parker United States, US: Rosemont Publishing & Printing Corp. 6