The following is a discussion of what the short story "The Standard of Living," by author Dorothy Parker, suggests about the beliefs, dreams, and value systems of today's materialistic society through a satire of the lives of two young American working girls.
People are shallow, greedy, selfish, and generally immoral creatures--they were in 1941 (when the story was written) and they still are now. What some people do not accept is that a person's quality of life is not dependent on their standard of living--to utilize an old clichÃÂ©, some people do believe that money does in fact buy happiness. Indeed, some people even value wealth so much that they even believe in emulating the behaviours that they associate with being wealthy. In the story "The Standard of Living," the girls act as if they are rich by eating imitation "rich people" food, and by treating the people, with whom they interact, with contempt.
The girls are also sexually promiscuous. Some people in our society behave in the same manner that the girls in the story do; some people attempt to satisfy their own vanity and their egos by acting as if they are wealthier and more culturally sophisticated those around them. The fact that promiscuity exists in society will not come as a shock to anyone, especially anyone that has watched television, ever. However, the fact that the story suggests many things about the narrow-mindedness of society's emphasis on wealth does not trigger new conceptions or ideas in my mind--I have known of the pretentiousness and shallowness of society for many years.
To me, the foods that the girls eat are the embodiment of the delusion of acting "wealthy." For example, the "meat patties" that the girls choose to eat, the ones that were "sweating beads of...