Analysis of "The Decline of the West"

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The subject of capitalism is one very thoroughly discussed, and opinions are wide-spread. Some believe it to be the root of all evil, while others merely choose to see it as an inevitable part of progress, one we might as well enjoy. After all, has living not become much easier since, say, the beginning of the industrialised age? Everyone can afford materialistic goods and no one is forced to starve. The question is, however, whether it is too good to be true, and recently, with the deep financial crises, many have come to face the fact that everything, even capitalism itself, comes with a price. Mike, a hardworking father of two, and the main character of Hanif Kureishi’s short story “The Decline of the West” from 2010, is an example of one who suddenly finds himself in a very precautious situation when he loses his job after both he and his family have been used to his rather substantial pay.

In The Decline of the West, Hanif Kureishi employs a limited third-person narrator, which is bound to the main character, Mike. As a result of this choice, the reader is only able to see into the thoughts and workings of Mike personally. In fact, sometimes the thoughts of this main character are even relayed directly; “He switched on the light and, looking out at the new deck where last summer they’d held barbecues, thought “I paid for this with my time, intelligence, and (…)”” At times, however, a vigilant reader will detect little instances of almost ironic comments from the author, “Yet how could his family be considering despicable or guilty of this, when all they’d asked for was continuous material improvement?” This may be the thoughts of Mike, but the underlying more ironic tone of the sentence, is clearly the author’s. One is given the impression that the author does indeed consider families like Mike’s the guilty ones. The effects of this point of view are that, firstly, the author’s own opinions are made clear to any reader, and secondly, the reader will...
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