top-rated free essay

button button

By ashleybowen May 01, 2014 869 Words

Button Button

Button Button is a short story written by Richard Matheson. Button Button tells the story of an average American couple, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Lewis, who is offered a peculiar offer from a stranger they’ve never encountered before. This stranger, Mr. Steward, offers them fifty thousand dollars to push a button but if they do push the button someone they do not know will die (Matheson 17). Mr. Lewis finds the whole idea mortifying and refuses to entertain the notion while his wife is intrigued and begins to imagine all the things they could do with an additional fifty thousand dollars. After an argument with her husband, Mrs. Lewis pushes the button and later receives a call informing her that her husband has died and that she will receive his fifty thousand dollar life insurance policy. Mrs. Lewis calls Mr. Steward, frantic and distraught, screaming that he told her no one she knew would die. The story ends with Mr. Steward asking her if she really knew who her husband was (Matheson 25). Well, did she?

In the beginning of the story when Mr. Steward first introduces the idea of the story Arthur and Norma are both disgusted with the idea. After Mr. Steward leaves his card on the table Arthur rips it into pieces. After he destroys Mr. Stewards’ card Norma askes him what he thinks it was. He replies that he doesn’t care to know and she tries to smile and asks “Aren’t you curious at all?” But he shakes his head to show that he is not (Matheson 18). Later on in the day she brings up the odd encounter again and asks her husband why he wont talk about it. She asks him if it intrigues him and he simply replied “It offends me” (Matheson 18). This is the first sign that Norma doesn’t truly know her husband. She believed that her husband would be just as intrigued as she was. If she did know him she would’ve known that it was something he would never entertain. While they are in bed she continues to talk about the proposition and defends herself by saying that it may be psychological research. Once again she asks him if he would like to know and he shakes his head. She asked him why and he told her “Because it’s immoral” (Matheson 18).

The following morning Norma snuck the ripped up card off the table and put it in her purse. During her lunch break she decided to call Mr. Steward. She told him that she was curious and he repeated the same proposition that he gave her and her husband the day before. Mr. Steward asked if she wanted him to return the button unit and she said “Certainly not” (Matheson 20). But sure enough the package was there waiting for her by the time she got home. She picked up the package, left it on the kitchen table, and once again she brought up the odd proposition to her husband. Instead of trying to establish curiosity within her husband she began to try to justify the situation. She brought up the idea that “Maybe some eccentric millionaire is playing games with people.” He responded by telling her that he doesn’t understand her and that she should just let it go (Matheson 20). After eating in silence she brought it up again saying that it could be a genuine offer. Finally Arthur challenged her and asked her what she would like to do. He asked her if she would want to murder someone (Matheson 21). The question astonished Norma because she never truly thought of it as murder. She then went on to defend herself by saying that it could be an “old Chinese peasant ten thousand miles away” or a “diseased native in the Congo”, to which Arthur responded it could also be a baby boy in Pennsylvania or “some beautiful little girl on the next block” (Matheson 21). He continued by saying “The point is Norma that who you kill makes no difference. It’s still murder.” This whole argument between Norma and Arthur proves Mr. Stewards assertion that Norma did not truly know her husband. Norma should have known that despite the high amount of money that was offered and despite all the things it could've done for their family Arthur would never be okay with murdering someone. She should’ve known that whether it was an old peasant in China or a baby boy in Pennsylvania nothing would've convinced Arthur that money was worth someones life. This also proves that Arthur didn’t know his wife that well either. If he did, he would've kept the ripped card instead of leaving it on the table which gave Norma the opportunity to call Mr. Steward.

Button Button is a grasping and ironic short story about greed and what can happen when one becomes too greedy. Within this short story, Richard Matheson shows how far one will go for their own selfish desires and where selfishness and greed gets you. For Norma, her selfishness and greed caused her to receive the money she wanted but lose the person she wanted to use all the money with.

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

    ...After his mother dies giving birth to him on the day of victory in World War I in 1918, Benjamin is taken by his father, Thomas Button (Jason Flemyng), and deposited on the doorstep of a home for the elderly. That is fitting since the infant looks like an 80-year-old man with sagging skin, cataracts, and wrinkles all over is body. Queenie (Taraj...

    Read More
  • the Curious Case of Benjamin Button

    ...Reaction Paper: The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button Benjamin Button played by Brad Pitt, who was born with a special needs and physical attributes of an old man with all of the side effects of aging. His father could not deal with the birth defects, and was not able to handle the sight of this child. As a result of this he abandoned the chi...

    Read More
  • Reaction Paper: the Curious Case of Benjamin Button

    ...Reaction Paper: The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button Brad Pitt is Benjamin Button, a man who was born under most peculiar circumstances. when Ben was born he had all the physical attributes of an 80 year old man. Arthritis, loss of hearing, loss of eye sight, Alzheimer's, you name it and he's got it. But, unlike everybody else in the world, in...

    Read More
  • Button, Button

    ...Button, Button By Richard Matheson Q No. 1: Why did Norma consider the tone and attitude of Mr. Steward offensive? Ans: Norma considered the tone and attitude of Mr. Steward offensive because he was insistent like a salesperson and kept speaking even after Norma’s excuse of being busy at home. Moreover, Norma felt his expressive style v...

    Read More
  • Button Button

    ...Everyday Ethics: the Finer Points of Ethical Decision Making in Button, Button by Richard Matheson Lesson Design by Jordan Kuszak, Ali Larson, and Brett Sales March 15th, 2012 Grade Level: 8 Time Frame: Four 50-minute Classes Essential questions: 1) How can we use a text to get students to actively consider the weight of the deci...

    Read More
  • Retrieved Reformation and Button Button Analysis

    ...considering our choices affect not only us, but the people around us. However, people are only willing to make meager sacrifices for others which causes the selfish side of the spectrum to dominate selfless side. People are wired in such a complex way, which makes it challenging to understand the human race. However, by reading we can enter the ...

    Read More
  • Tender Buttons

    ...-------------------------------------------------   Tender Button In the summer of 1912, while vacationing in Spain, Gertrude Stein began to write short prose poems on discrete objects and little events (shopping, eating, talking) that comprised ordinary daily living. Generating poems from such mundane experience was not on its own anything...

    Read More
  • Benjamin Button

    ...What happens when a sudden shock takes over and your baby is not really a “baby?” In the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald and the movie who was screen played by Eric Roth, The curious Case of Benjamin Button tells a story of a gentleman who happened to be born under unusual circumstances. “Life would be infinitely happier if we could o...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.