There are a million acts of kindness each day. Some young man gives a stranger a compliment, or a teacher brightens a students morning. But, in the world we live in today, these acts are rare to come by. In this short story Thank You, Ma’am, the boy, out of mysterious luck, gets taken in by the woman whom he was trying to steal a purse from. Her actions, following the incident towards the boy, may have seemed very kind and understanding, but the boy needs a more solid way of punishment. He requires discipline that will show him that as complicated as life is, there will not always be someone for you to lean and depend on.
The first and most foremost thing that would come to mind when reading this story is how caring Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones was, that she took in the boy and nurtured him; she tried to teach him between right and wrong. She gave him food, a nice conversation, and even a chance of escape, which he chose not to take, but these methods are still an immoral way of handling the situation. If a boy were to come up to an everyday woman on the streets, that victim would not be as sensitive as Mrs. Jones was to the boy she caught. To teach a young man that if you steal and you are going to get special treatment is not an effective method of punishment.
First of all, the boy told Mrs. Jones that he tried to steal her purse for one reason, to buy blue suede shoes for himself. She then replies, “Well you didn’t have to snatch my pocketbook to get some blue suede shoes… You could have just asked me.” There are many faulty choices of judgments made in this comment, mainly because the outcome of the situation would almost never happen in the real world. The boy will now, after being told he should just ask for the shoes, believe that anything he ever wants will come to his possession if would just ask. To “trick” a child into being convinced that if you just ask a woman for money or anything that she will give it to you is morally wrong, and it is not fair for the boy to go through life having and accepting this state of mind.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby – Corruption of the American Dream
Jay Gatsby is a man with a dream and will stop at nothing to attain it. When he loses the love of his life to a wealthy, sophisticated and bigoted socialite, his mind is set. Born a poor farm boy, he centers his life around achieving extraordinarily vast amounts of wealth and great social status. The poor man never gets the girl; in fact, he never gets anything in Gatsby’s eyes. Gatsby is determined not only to be rich, but become the richest man who ever lived. When he does become the richest man who ever lived, he wants to become the ultimate ruler of the universe. Gatsby wants to be God. Nick Carraway, his laid-back and observant neighbor, despises Gatsby’s flamboyant and exaggerated ways. However, he comes to admire Gatsby because of his unending optimism and his ongoing pursuit of making his dreams become reality. To many, Gatsby can be seen as the ultimate symbol of the greatness of the American dream. However, Gatsby is really the ultimate symbol of the ridiculous excess and waste of wealthy American socialites, which Carraway is so opposed to. Nowhere but in America is everything and anything possible, and nowhere but in America can the attainment of excessive frivolity be seen as admirable, even heroic. From his pathetic attempts to fake fate to his almost childlike whims of knowing no limit, Gatsby is not a symbol of the greatness of the American dream, but a mere parody of it.
First of all, Gatsby is not admirable because he refuses to be himself. Perhaps he wasn’t meant to be a farmer or a pauper, however, Gatsby will never be the Rhett Butler he parades himself around to be. “His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people – his imagination had never really accepted them as his pa…
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True success cannot be measured in monetary terms but through knowledge, wisdom and finding one’s true self. In this sense, Gatsby failed miserably. Although he was tremendously optimistic and pursued his dreams, he represented America at its’ worst: unnatural, overly extravagant, distasteful, and pathetic. Gatsby is not admirable because the way he led his life was a mockery to mankind. The beauty of striving for one’s dreams is found in the self-discipline and work required – there is little merit in lavishly rewarding yourself for a goal achieved. Gatsby had no morals, no sense of self, and in truth, he had no life. He had only his money, his dreams, and his “make believe” reality. The Great Gatsby represents the complete corruption of the American dream.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Macmillan, 1992.