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How A Capitalist Society Affects Family Life In The Decline Of The West By Hanif Kureishi

916 words - 4 pages

The short story “The Decline of the West” is written in 2010 by a man named Hanif Kureishi. It focuses on the how the modern capitalistic society is and how it affects the family life. It also questions the ethnicity of capitalism.
The main character is a 3rd person narrator but it is bound to the main character. We only get to hear his thoughts and see things from his point of view. The story takes place in England in the outskirts of London.

In the start of the short story we are presented to a guy named Mike who has been fired from his work and is coming home early to tell the news to his wife. We are told that he was working late and that it affected his relationship to his family that rarely sees him.
Mike has built up a debt which would take about two years of income to repay and that makes the firing a serious problem. The family has a desire for material things which requires a certain amount of income and they want to appear as if they have a great life. They have put on a kind of “mask” to the public society. Mike knows that their family will not be able to keep living in their five story house in outer London. Mike’s two sons, Billy and Tom, already want to move but only because their schoolmates live in bigger houses.
Tom and Billy are used to living the upper-class life which includes their parents working almost all the time and the au pair being their closest “relative” at home. This creates a kind of alienated relationship between the parents and the kids. The family communicates every day but they all live separate lives.
The kids are used to being able to get what they want without being questioned, but never understood how or why. They have no respect towards their dad and especially Tom doesn’t think that his father has done anything for him. He doesn’t know that if his father does not work, they are not able to get all the things they want.
Some of the bad sides of capitalism are show in the text when Mike and Tom have been fighting (verbally) and Mike is in the kitchen when suddenly the power goes shuts off and he hears his son, Billy, shout out “Dad, dad, dad – do something”. He goes to the basement where the fusebox is and he early slips on the stairs. When this short incident occurs he thinks about how easy it would be just to fall down the stairs and die. The power returns and he comes back into the “awful world” of materialistic desire, and...

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