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“Play It as It Lays” by Joan Didion and “Less Than Zero” by Brett Easton Ellis Comparison Report

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Updated: Nov 28th, 2021

Introduction

Play it as It Lays is a contemporary novel that was published in the early 70s by an American novelist Joan Didion. Generally, the novel begins with a thoughtful monologue by the lead character Maria Wythe. Enjoined by simple memories of her friend as well ex-husband and former film director Carter Lang. all in all, the novel is well presented in spectacular prose which has been established from the third-person narration in a highly terse, controlled perspective.

Nevertheless, Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis is also an equally explosive novel, typically, the novel revolves around the life of Clay, a wealthy young college student who had gone back to his hometown for the winter break in the early 80s. Typically, the novel employs the use of suspense to present a well-thought storyline that is virtually addictive and infectious.

Plot summary

Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis is a powerful novel that explores the life of a young college student, building on the nightlife that is almost the prerogative of the cities. The novel presents us to the dark world of drugs, prostitution and violence. Using well-structured prose, the novel captures the imagination of the reader in that, using simple but direct language; it creates an air of closeness to the characters. However, Joan Didion’s novel, Play it as It Lays tackles the issue of modernity which has given man such concepts of the sexual revolution, women’s liberation, and equally the drug culture. These ideologies reflected the scope of freedom.

However as is seen in the eyes of the author, the consequences of these lethal concepts are vividly seen in the life of Maria, who had become a woman of casual sex, alcohol, drugs and wild wandering. Looking at Maria’s life, it is apparent that, selfishness played a significant role in shaping her destiny. Analyzing the scope of these two novels, it is obvious that, both books draw heavily from the social ills which are a result of misdirected social principles. This is evidently shown where Maria being the key character in the novel Play it as It Lays avers “I used to ask questions, and I got the answer: nothing. The answer is ‘nothing’” (Joan 45). And this is a pointer that, she had become a nihilist due to the nature of the lifestyle she had adapted to.

Book analysis

On structural analysis, the two novels greatly differ, however, the presentation of the theme and the way the plot has been developed, the two novels come into an agreement. Basically, the concept of social decay has been greatly reflected where the authors have managed to explore diverse social ideologies. Though, Play it as It Lays takes us through a range of almost typical scenarios, it is evident that, the novel portrays a

The simple, intelligent and well-structured plot, that covers each and every step we make when we fail to realize the dangers associated with selfishness. More so, Less Than Zero, equally, transverses through the same wilderness but without much authority. Thus, the use of literary artistic tools brings the cardinal difference that sets the two books apart due to the individual stylistic approach of the author. Hence, it is imperative to state that, Less than Zero, is set to present the simple lifestyle that is destroyed by the blindness caused by selfishness, Play It as It Lays edges towards establishing the reality of ideologies that are more or less introduced into our life’s as we seek to polish individual identity, which later leads to destruction. Therefore, this novel captures the real scope of an entire generation, a society that portrays a culture of emptiness.

Conclusion

Using metaphors and imagery, Less than Zero can be said to present the contemporary world of want and destruction. Looking at the manner by which the author portrays Clay is similar to the same picture Maria is painted in the novel Play It As It Lays. This can be contributed to the fact that both novels reflect on the social decay that is dwarfing the current generation. Therefore, basing my opinion on what the two novels present, it is imperative to argue that, both books have managed to reflect the real image of the world we live in. However, on the other hand, they fail to merge in the context of language and storyline construction.

This can be evidenced by the novel Less than Zero which tends to introduce its argument in shorter clips as is common in movies. All in all, the bottom line is edged where the author acknowledged that “I come to a red light, tempted to go through it, then stop once I see a billboard sign that I don’t remember seeing and I look up at it. All it says is “Disappear here” and even though it’s probably an ad for some resort, it still freaks me out a little and I step on the gas really hard and the car screeches as I leave the light “(Bret 75). And this points to the very hopelessness which has shackled the human race today.

Works cited

Bret, Easton. Less Than Zero. New York: Penguin Books, 1985.

Joan, Didion. Play It as It Lays. New York: Farrar Straus & Giroux, 1970.

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""Play It as It Lays" by Joan Didion and "Less Than Zero" by Brett Easton Ellis Comparison." IvyPanda, 28 Nov. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/play-it-as-it-lays-by-joan-didion-and-less-than-zero-by-brett-easton-ellis-comparison/.

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IvyPanda. ""Play It as It Lays" by Joan Didion and "Less Than Zero" by Brett Easton Ellis Comparison." November 28, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/play-it-as-it-lays-by-joan-didion-and-less-than-zero-by-brett-easton-ellis-comparison/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. ""Play It as It Lays" by Joan Didion and "Less Than Zero" by Brett Easton Ellis Comparison." November 28, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/play-it-as-it-lays-by-joan-didion-and-less-than-zero-by-brett-easton-ellis-comparison/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) '"Play It as It Lays" by Joan Didion and "Less Than Zero" by Brett Easton Ellis Comparison'. 28 November.

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