Literary Criticism on Anna Quindlen's " Stuff Is Not Salvation"

In: English and Literature

Submitted By stimmath
Words 642
Pages 3
“Why in the world did we buy all this junk in the first place?” (159). In Anna Quidlen’s essay: Stuff is Not Salvation, she criticizes American consumer culture, diagnosing consumers generally as having “an addiction to consumption so out of control that it qualifies as a sickness” (159). To make her case Quindlen compares her view of a morally deficient materialistic present to her version of a more morally wholesome idealized past. Throughout the essay Quindlen chooses to use emotionally charged events and language, like her reference to the trampling to death of a Walmart employee by holiday shoppers, or when she writes ``these are dark days in the United States: the cataclysmic stock-market declines``. What Quindlen does not provide are any logical lines of reasoning or support. To better understand and analyze Quidlen`s essay we will refer to an essay on a related topic by David Guterson: Enclosed. Encyclopedic. Endured., published in 1993. This essay relates Mr. Guterson`s experience of a one week tour of the Mall of America, in Minneapolis, at the time the largest mall in the world. Mr. Guterson is much less ambitious in his claims but actually provides support by tracing the history of consumerism in America as expressed in malls. Mr. Guterson also draws heavily on his analysis of interviews and comments made by shoppers at the world`s largest mall.
Sometimes considering when an essay was written is important to help us understand the approach the author took. It is noteworthy that Quidlen`s essay was published in December of 2008, right at the bottom of what is now known as the Great Financial Crisis and one year into an American recession. Admittedly with the benefit of hindsight it seems clear to me that Ms. Quindlen was reflecting the tenor of times in producing a piece that was long on emotion and very short on analysis. In contrast Mr. Guterson`s…...

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