A: The Decline of the West
The Decline of the West is a short story by Hanif Kureishi. It is about a husband and father, named Mike, who comes home from an over twelve hour day at his job, to find his wife annoyed and not pleased with him, his oldest son the same, and his youngest son happy to see him because he have promised to buy him a guitar, an amplifier and a microphone. Because of these troubles at home, he does not get a chance to tell his wife or the children that he earlier the same day was fired. We know that Mike works in corporate finance, and compared to some of their acquaintances, he “was relatively small time”1, that is even though they got an au pair who cleans their house three times a week, their children go to private school and gets everything they want and so does his wife Imogen. Even though he seem to be living in a relatively big house and during pretty good, we are told that he still takes the tube and even though he works over twelve hours almost every day, they are in staggering debt, a debt so massive it cumulates to two years’ salary. This is something the short story uses to criticize the western capitalistic way of life in a very subtle way. The author does so by expressing how the capitalistic way of life have made Mikes family appreciate new materialistic things, but not appreciate each other, because of their love to new materialistic things and always having to be one of the first in their circle of friends to own these things, they have ended in debt. At the same time as the author this way criticizes capitalism, he points out that the Marxists also had pointed out that capitalism would crack under the weight of its contradictions.2 But not only capitalism seem to be cracking under the need for getting more and more materialistic goods, as Mike’s family shows, the whole family is taking its toll, and even though they didn’t have any wars, or lived under German bombs, as Mike’s father enjoyed telling him, there seem to be...
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