Sunday, December 04, 2011

Social climbing ...

... “Please Tell Me” | Mark Athitakis’ American Fiction Notes.

I don't think there is much of a class system is America, actually. But we do produce a good number of people aiming at snobbery.


  1. As a nation we are too young to have developed a caste system. We have political freedom but also the true freedom of knowing that, while one might be restricted socially, there are no restrictions on one's ambition, talent, or dreams.
    I believe this will change as the country matures.
    Basic elements have always existed: wrong side of the tracks, poor side of town, knowing one's place, the house on the hill, etc.
    Another division was 'old money' and 'new money.'
    The coming changes will build on that. Witness the middle class shrinking, growth in wealth disparity, gated communities, cultural and social activities (like sports, plays, etc.) available mostly to the monied.

  2. It's a profound misread to look at that ice cream passage that our bumbling pal Mark quotes as "class anxiety." The vital clue is "wash the Midwest off," which means that Mitchell is undergoing more of a regional readjustment, amalgamated with Mitchell being young and neurotic and competitive with Leonard. As the astute Pete Anderson (apparently not banned from commenting on Athitakis's dull blog, thank goodness) notes in the comments over there, the only distinction that Eugenides makes is between middle class and upper middle class -- a fairly limited and unimaginative distinction. But at least Eugenides exists to reinforce Mark Athitakis's unadventurous middle-class comforts. Long may he fly the safe middlebrow flag.