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Divisions within communities have been observed since the times of ancient civilizations. Nevertheless, the streaming growth of the industrial revolution of the 19th century brought some significant changes to the understanding of social inequalities. “The Semplica-Girl Diaries” is one of the chapters from the diary called Tenth of December written by George Saunders. The section is remarkable in its realistic representation of social fracturing. In general, the text centers on the contrast between two families with different financial and social backgrounds. The protagonist of the story is a middle-class striver. The man does his best to ensure that his daughter possesses similar artifacts of wealthy living as the representatives of rich families do. The diary reveals the prerequisites and consequences of such strivings. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the chapter and provide arguments to prove that community fracturing has been caused by distortions in the human value system and the loss of the feeling of self-worth.
The main factor that has been haunting the narrator is the fact that his economic status was lower than that of other individuals. The author makes multiple allusions to the descriptions of the way wealthier families live to reveal how this difference is repeatedly imprinted in the narrator’s mind. Saunders wrote in the diary that the yard near their house made a huge contrast to that of Torrini’s, for it contained neither a red Oriental bridge nor a single outbuilding attached to the main house. In this extract, he tried to uncover all the complexity of the occurring situation through the behavior of their dog Ferber, whose eyes reflected “low-boiling anger” because he was treated as an outcast (Saunders 118). Through the use of the metaphor, the author intended to show that the existing social disparity was a delusion. It is possible to state that animals cannot possess an inferiority complex related to the iniquity of fortune. Nonetheless, the author was able to observe it. Therefore, this description reveals quite a lot about the main hero and his values. He believed that all the events in his life were somehow linked to his financial well-being.
Apart from that, based on the reading, it is possible to assume that social division is the inevitable consequence of the absence of support. As it comes from the chapter, the main hero believes that people who receive support from their families tend to become more successful in life and can reach a higher social status than those individuals who do not receive assistance from their parents. Saunders had noted that Torrini’s success stemmed from the inheritance that he had received from his family (Saunders 113). He believed that it was wrong that his family could not benefit from the same level of welfare.
According to Saunders, his daughter also felt ashamed of their lowly social status and felt embarrassed when inviting her friends to their house. Their condition was aggravated by the way other people sometimes treated them. The author mentioned that their yard was once staffed with condom boxes. The author’s perception of this occurrence revealed his awareness and acceptance of the existing social fragmentation and the community’s disregard for the individuals belonging to less advantaged population groups. These assumptions exhibit the values of the main hero. Inheritance does not develop any skills in a person or make them industrious. It does provide the person with greater resources; however, the well-being of the individual depends primarily on his or her efforts and strivings. Therefore, it is possible to state that psychological factors have contributed greatly to the emergence of fractured communities.
One of the crucial ideas proposed by the author is the assumption that wealthier people tend to exhibit their well-being and will not miss an opportunity to flaunt their success in front of the poorer. On the example of Leslie’s mother, the narrator showed that people from rich families intentionally demonstrated their assumed superiority over individuals who were not as rich as they were. When Lily came to Torrini’s birthday party, she asked whether they could come closer to the SG. However, Leslie’s mother replied, “We don’t, as we already have, many times, dear, but you perhaps would like to? Perhaps this is all very new and exciting for you?” (Saunders 114). When interacting with the girl, the adult person felt the need to exhibit the wealth of her family arrogantly and show that she could observe that Lily was not rich. Therefore, the problem with the community has a dual nature. People belonging to the wealthier population groups do feel superior and regard those who do not possess similar treasures as inferior. Based on the chapter, such a perception of people is considered the norm. Therefore, fractured communities are the consequence of the wrongful worldview of both the poor and the rich.
The contrast of living conditions and the absence (or presence) of artifacts of the material world serve as a platform for developing the feeling of depression or arrogance. The following statement confirms this assumption: “do not really like rich people, as they make us poor people feel dopey and inadequate” (Saunders 118). For these reasons, the psychological impact of disparate wealth can be concluded to an understanding that people feel dissatisfied with their social rank if they are not rich enough. Individuals develop depressive moods since they no longer feel their worth in society while the rich want to separate themselves from the rest of the community.
Another important claim regarding fractured communities is linked to the way they have affected the younger generations. Importantly, the narrator believes that children coming from less advantaged families do not have the tools or strength to combat the existing stereotypes and biases due to the lack of support. The author says, “Do not want to break Lilly’s heart or harshly remind her of our limitations. God knows she is already reminded often enough” (Saunders 123). This sentence vividly displays the despair of the narrator. He comprehends that the discriminating beliefs have been deeply ingrained into society. Moreover, he does not know how he can help his child in such a setting, so he initiates a dialogue with God in the hope that higher forces will help his family. Notably, the narrator comprehends that money does bring joy to Lily, which evidences that children are also raised with certain stereotypical values.
Important claims have been made about the reasons why communities have been fractured. According to the reading, it occurs due to the wealth disparity, which is the inevitable consequence of differences in educational levels of people. People belonging to different social ranks often have dissimilar educational backgrounds. Saunders supports this claim through the comment made by Leslie’s father (Emmett) who is a surgeon. The man sarcastically says, “amazing the strange, arcane things our culture requires some of us to do, degrading things, things that offer no tangible benefit to anyone, how do they expect people to continue to even hold their heads up” (Saunders 117). The main hero intended to learn more about the job of a surgeon; however, it turned out that he was completely ignorant about it, which made him intensely despondent. Saunders suggests that varied educational levels have pushed the division among population groups. When people do not have the required level of education, they do not have enough opportunities to earn big amounts of money. Such an explanation of the author seems quite rational. Nevertheless, this assumption can be strongly opposed.
Even though social fractions do form as a consequence of economic inequality, the core of the problem lies in human values. The amount of money should not affect the way people perceive themselves or others. Financial stability cannot establish a feeling of superiority in people. However, if it does, it means that the shift in the value system has occurred, and the feelings of self-worth and dignity are less important than the number of material artifacts is (Saunders 121). Since it is possible to observe that many children in the diary grow up appreciating money, it becomes evident that fragmented communities are the aftermath of the degrading moral principles and values.
Thus, it can be concluded that the book by Saunders vividly reveals the consequences of social fragmentation, which pushes the reader to evaluate his or her individual experience and judgments. Fractured communities exhibited in the chapter are the result of economic differences in people. Importantly, they cause different distortions in all the parties. Nonetheless, it can be stated that the dissatisfaction of individuals displayed in the book regarding their financial well-being does not raise such severe concerns while the absence of the feeling of self-worth in them does. Therefore, the psychological distortions experienced by all the parties are the result of a strong shift in human values.
Saunders, George. Tenth of December. A&C Black, 2013.