Money is the driving force behind everything in modern day society. According to Ford, a character in Noah Hawley’s A Conspiracy of Tall Men, money is what keeps society together. “You know what keeps us from sliding back into barbarism? Money. That is the one constant.”(Hawley, 362) Linus, the main character in Hawley’s novel, does not want to be a part of this society because he is afraid of money and what it represents.
“Linus is afraid of money. Not the smaller bills, the Washington’s and Lincolns, the Jackson’s and Grants, but the larger sums, the cashiers checks with multiple zeros, the stock portfolios and escrow accounts, afraid too of what they buy, the new cars with their leather stink, the first class seats on airplanes, the cellular phones and fax modems.”(3)
Each cell phone conversation gives a glimpse into the role money plays in the society that Linus is afraid to be a part of. Specifically, how money affects a person’s assumptions, fixations, environment, success, control, and aspirations.
Money has the ability to make assumptions between people of different classes. Linus is a character who appears to lack the sophistication and refinement that his wife Claudia exhibits because of their different backgrounds. “He was twenty six, she twenty-five, and he was one year away from his doctorate in alternative American history, while she lived in the Pacific Heights area of San Francisco and drove an Audi.”(36) During a flashback where Linus remembers his first date with Claudia at the Museum of Modern Art, Linus is portrayed as somebody who does not really fit in with the profile of a typical museum patron. “She talked about lines and space and he noted how no one was willing to step right up to the paintings, to smell them, feel the weight of the paint on the canvas.”(36) Hawley uses a cell phone conversation that appears in the background to show how money affects a person’s distinction. “Behind them a man on a cellular phone said, It’s more of a burning sensation.” This conversation refers to a rash of some sort that the man is experiencing, an odd and embarrassing conversation to have at a museum. The man appears to be of a high class because he is talking on a cell phone, which is representative of Linus’ definition of money, when in fact his conversation shows a lack of class because he discusses his rash in public (3). Linus is afraid of money because money creates false assumptions.
In addition to creating assumptions, money also develops an interpersonal fixation; fixation on money as an object develops infatuation in the pursuit rather then the outcome. While at a Sunday lunch with Linus, Ford’s infatuation with money becomes apparent through his dress and mannerisms, which suggests how important money is to Ford. “[Ford is] wearing a suit though it’s Sunday.”(126) Even on a Sunday Ford still dresses in a business suit which implies that Fords occupation has become his life, because, even on a day...