Money and Power in Contemporary American Literature
The entanglement of human life with the two driving forces of money and power is amazing. The literature in the past twenty years has so many twists in the presentation of this aspect of sociological life. The exposure to consumerism and declining spiritualism is closely liked with the drive for power and money. Humankind is a scheming soul which derives pleasure from the flights of fantasy, as seen in the novel “Middle Passage” by Johnson, in which a protagonist is a dexterous man skillful but scheming to cut corners and have most by least efforts. He eyes for pleasure, comfort, and new experiences. In this book, the literature has been the reflection of the society in which African Americans live, with their limited freedom and immense restriction.
The power of the white men is presented by money and control, while back, men are selves forced to obey and tolerate. The book is about an educated, freed slave – Rutherford Calhoun, scheming and restless to not settle down for any commitment and stable work. His power comes from his waywardness and non-commitment, which gives him a sense of control over others. Even though the portrayal is of America in 1830, with focus on the passage, which signifies the power of faith in the change for the better, which is the journey of the slaves from Africa to America. The characteristic which has been presented as the strong grip of power and money over the individual is present even today.
A similar trend is seen in White Noise by Don DeLillo, where the focus is 1970, a period set in a small town called Blacksmith. The book very graphically presents the tensions which are an inherent part of the power and money game in which relationships get entangled, consumerism is addictive, and there is decay and devastation stored in the future. The power of the technology, and the kind of money which is spent in the process, has lurking danger which has the potential to overcast the lives of millions that is what is experienced by the characters in the novel, where the airborne toxic cloud strikes, forcing and disrupting lives of many.
Society is presented as a very fragile entity in the light of the gripping hold of the power of technology which commands a great investment of money. The indulgences are reflected in the character of Jack Gladney and his wife, Babette. The book depicts the rocky passage of the 1980s family life against the background of consumerism until the lethal black chemical cloud floats over family members’ lives. The power of consumerism and the power of technology is deeply embedded in the molding of the lives of the characters and have been reduced to the level of puppets. The money is the source of this overpowering saga. Power and money are in juxtaposition, as well as intertwined projection.
The two periods, as represented by the literature of the period spanning 80 years, have been presented in two different settings, and the story is the same. The craving for money and desire for power lead characters to places and force them to have experiences, which are unfathomable. Man becomes a puppet to the unseen forces of power and money. It lowers the image of the character and pushed life towards such complexity, from where there is no clear path. This phenomenon is as true today as it was then. Even today, we the technology overpowering the global scenario and money begets that power which is misused for selfish agendas leading to deterioration and decay of the social structure. Humans are addiction machines; they use their free will for just pleasure and entertainment, which 21st-century technology and power provide. This is a truly dangerous combination, not safe for social harmony.