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Essay on The Effect of Social Status on Literary Characters

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When The Beatles released the song “Can’t Buy Me Love” on March 16, 1964, its intention was to become yet another hit rock number. While Paul McCartney may not have composed the tune for philosophical purposes, the idea is worth further consideration; how can money and power affect love and affection? This concept has been applied throughout many different works, long before McCartney decided to put his lyrics together. In From Sleep Unbound and The Tin Flute, Andree Chedid and Gabrielle Roy demonstrate how money and social status (real and perceived) influence characters’ relationships through the use of vivid imagery, symbolism, and voice.
Throughout both novels, relationships between various characters are greatly influenced by each person’s social status and wealth. A change in either social standing or finances can change any type of relationship. At the boarding school in From Sleep Unbound, Samya and her friend Sarah grow apart after Sarah leaves the school to be married.
We had sat together on the same benches, and yet I hardly recognized her. High heels, furs in which she seemed lost, brown suede gloves dangling from her fingers. The diamond she wore gave off a bright light. I no longer knew her. She was old and ugly, dressed-up this way…I felt like hitting Sarah, and yet at the same time, I wanted to hold her tightly and chase away this nightmare. (Chedid 33)

The imagery Chedid creates highlights the changes that have transformed Sarah and their effects on her friendship with Samya. Sarah treats the girls at the school differently after she comes into money with her marriage, and Samya reacts differently to the wealthy version of Sarah. “Say you don’t need no diamond rings…” (McCartney). The acquisition or loss of m...


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...wealth and social status.
A character’s social standing and money can completely alter the nature of a relationship, positively and negatively. Chedid and Roy both utilize this concept throughout their novels From Sleep Unbound and The Tin Flute; characters’ relations and interactions with family members, friends, acquaintances, and strangers are all based on the characters’ statuses and wealth. With imagery, symbolism, and voice Chedid and Roy convey that while it strongly affects all relationships, “…money can’t buy [anyone] love.” (McCartney).



Works Cited

Chedid, Andree. From Sleep Unbound. Athens, OH: Swallow/ Ohio UP, 1995. Print.
McCartney, Paul. "Can't Buy Me Love." Rec. 29 Jan. 1964. The Beatles. George Martin, 1964. Web. .
Roy, Gabrielle. The Tin Flute. Toronto & Ontario: Canadian/ New Canadian Library, 1980. Print.


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