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Morris Lurie's Pride And Joy Essay

1246 words - 5 pages

Write about how one character from Morris Lurie’s Pride and Joy is
presented and how this character develops key concerns in the story.

Billy in Morris Lurie’s ‘Pride and Joy’ is initially presented as a 16
year old boy who literally lives his life in the footsteps of his
abusive, irresponsible, bohemian father, Ned Mathews. By the end of
the story Billy’s character has undergone a transformation to become
his own person; he has broken away from his father. This short story
is told in first person narrative by an anonymous narrator. This
narrator is a tourist on an island in the “Great Barrier Reef” who
tells his account of his encounter with millionaire Ned Mathews and
his son, Billy. Through his characterization of Billy, Morris Lurie
conveys themes of self realization, responsibility, judgment, and
parenting. This essay will show how Billy’s characterization develops
Morris Lurie’s themes.

Wealth, ownership, control and his desire for his father’s approval
shows how Lurie, through his characterization of Billy conveys his
theme of lifestyle choices. Ever since Billy and his father come to
the island they act like they own everything and everyone on it. When
they go to eat breakfast in the morning, Billy deals with the “very
pretty” waitress like she is a prostitute, “‘What’s ya name, honey? he
said ‘Why?’ said the girl. ‘I always like to know the names of the
girls I sleep with.” Lurie’s use of a colloquial language and
inappropriate language such as ‘honey’ and ‘sleep with’ during Billy’s
dialogue with a waitress show his desire to control a situation and to
please his father; “‘Easy, son’ said Mathews, but his face was beaming
with pride. Billy’s self-confident and commanding swagger, “He
[Billy] walked with an exaggerated swagger” is an example of a
movement which Lurie associates with Billy to show yet another aspect
of his desire to dominate over everyone else in the restaurant. By
exploring Billy’s inappropriate choice of lifestyle in great detail,
Lurie expresses his theme, which is to take care when choosing your
lifestyle.

Billy’s desire to please his father and to control is reiterated by
the motif of alcohol. Billy is too young to be drinking as much
alcohol as he does, yet he does and he does it to please his father
and to control by demonstrating that he is able to drink as much as
his father. This is shown in the quotation, “His son [Billy] matched
him drink for drink.” Lurie’s use of the narrator’s voice is very
significant here because the narrator is presented to readers as very
moral and sensible, so when the narrator talks about a boy drinking as
much as a man we worry. This concern is further addressed by the
narrative voice in the line, “I watched the boy. How long could he
last? I thought. How long could he keep it up?” and also when he
thinks, “Don’t tell me Billy is outdrinking him. I thought. His own
son. His own pride and joy.” The pace is significantly sped up
...

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