Power Struggle in Goodbye Columbus

Topics: Social class, Working class, Sociology Pages: 4 (1332 words) Published: May 8, 2013
Eric Allen
Dr. Stanley
English 120
There are many things that can be dissected from any novel or novella as long as the time and effort is put into it. There is also personal interpretation which is different amongst all people. The thing that would be most apparent in the novella, “Goodbye Columbus”, is that there is an obvious focus around power struggles. These power struggles could be anything physical, mental, or emotional between separate parties that could result in one being supreme over the other. All parties wish to be supreme of the others. The novella, “Goodbye Columbus”, is written on the premise of constant power struggles that resonate throughout the novella expressed through family, social class, and the relationship of Brenda and Neil.

The most obvious of the power struggles are presented to the reader through Brenda and Neil. The entire relationship between Brenda and Neil, as portrayed in the novella, was a series of power struggles. The first encounter Brenda and Neil have with one another was the first power struggle where Brenda tries to establish dominance. Brenda does something subtle but powerful at the same time. Neil is at the country club by the pool when Brenda walks up to him and tells him to hold her glasses and she dives into the pool. By telling and not asking, Brenda was acting as if she was better like her needs were more important than his feelings or thoughts. Also, she plain expected him to hold it with Neil being a total stranger. To add insult to injury, when she took back the glasses she refused to put them on infront of him so she waited until she turned her back to him. This is interpreted as a flaunting, or “how do you like that” kind of attitude. This was a show of social status and hierarchy between the two. Brenda being a member of the country club and from upper class that was once lower class, and Neil a non-member being from a lower class. This put the foot in the door of what would...

Cited: Roth, Philip. Goodbye, Columbus. New York: A Division of Random House, Inc., 1993. Print.
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