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Rate my Marxism essay please!

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Rate my Marxism essay please!  [#permalink]

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New post 09 Aug 2016, 03:26
Hi,

Please check my essay.

Zone One and Marxism

        
Colson Whitehead's novel, Zone One, draws attention to the issue of consumer capitalism through a post-apocalyptic plot line. Leif Sorensen draws on at this point by discussing how Zone One feeds into his claim that “capitalism insists that the future will be an endless repetition of its cycles of creative destruction” (562). My essay builds and extend this claim by focusing on an overlooked aspect of the novel, the stragglers’ role of attempting to cling to the past. By concentrating on the pursuit of the past, I highlight Whitehead’s assertion that people “have this consumer memory that’s very hard-wired” (“Colson Whitehead on Zombies”). I argue that Zone One emphasizes that the human instinct to cleave to the past is a result of consumerism. Whitehead’s inclusion of nostalgia throughout Zone One shows the powerful influence of the past and consumer society, consistently observed through the actions of the stragglers.

        Utilizing the critical school of Marxism will allow me to relate today’s society to the nostalgic habits reflected in Zone One. Zone One heavily depicts this ideology through various events. It occurs throughout the novel that stragglers, and even in some scenarios the sweepers, actively seek comfort in the familiarity of their past, particularly shown in the scene describing the TGI Friday’s in the middle of the novel. 

        Zone One consistently shows the draw of comfort and nostalgia as a heavy influence of consumerism. One critical part in the book is when Mark Spitz is discussing the TGI Friday’s. Mark Spitz recalls the time he spent with his family at the “local franchise” that was also “his family’s place for the impulse visits and birthday celebrations and random celebrations, season upon season” (Whitehead 188-9). The inclusion of this scene shows Mark Spitz, who is a sweeper seemingly acknowledged as middle class, temporarily living in the past. He describes this restaurant as a significant place for him and his family. He also then describes the devastating moment when he realized that his favorite restaurant was a product of consumerism. Mark Spitz states that “he was crestfallen when he ate at another location for the first time” and he recognized the “same stuff on the wall” (189). This moment is crucial because it emphasizes how even the most precious and sentimental aspects of our life are a result of consumer culture. Many aspects cleverly crafted to appear as a one-of-a-kind product or experience actually result in a slightly customizable template. 

        Whitehead also uses the TGI Friday’s occurrence to break down the hierarchies of society. As Zone One has it, Buffalo is a representation of the upper class, the sweepers represent the middle class, and the skels and stragglers make up the lower class. Mark Spitz temporarily breaks the barriers between himself and the actions of the lower class by partaking in the nostalgia of his past enjoyment of the restaurant. Often stragglers are returning to familiar places of their past, and one statement from Mark Spitz shows that he is no different. As he is taking in the restaurant and the memories associated with it, he realizes that “he was a ghost. A straggler” (192). The simple realization shows that there is not much difference in the people of the middle and lower classes. As Katz states, “Underclass’ referred to people ‘stuck at the bottom, removed from the American dream” (206). This can easily define the stragglers who seem stuck in the past. In the end, all people experience the same thoughts and emotions, and can find themselves “tied to key moments in their lives” (“Colson Whitehead on Zombies”).

        Whitehead strongly associates the stragglers with the current issue people face with “dealing with problems by wrestling with our pasts” (“Colson Whitehead on Zombies”). Whitehead consistently states how stragglers, which can easily relate to many people in today’s society, are following “homing instincts” and have the tendency to go to places that are “emotionally charged” (“Colson Whitehead on Zombies”). Whitehead relates the similarities between the stragglers and the survivors when he mentions how the survivors also attempt to “recreate a fallen world” (“Colson Whitehead on Zombies”). In Zone One stragglers surface in mediocre places, simply standing or staring off into space. For example, the sweepers created the game “Solve the Straggler” where the crew will create a story behind the straggler (Whitehead 100). In one particular scene towards the middle of the novel, we see Mark Spitz, Gary, and Kaitlyn in an office building. As they are going through they run into a man who is aimlessly standing in a copy room, and they deem him as “Ned the Copy Boy” (102). This particular event shows how the straggler returned to his routine job, which was nothing out of the ordinary or glamourous. It determined that the straggler shows how a simple, familiar place such as work, can serve as a comfort.

        Furthermore, Zone One makes a stance about the human instinct to return to the past, as represented by the quote “Normal meant ‘the past” (81). This quote powerfully relates to the message that Whitehead conveys through Mark Spitz. Whitehead discusses New York and even through the changes and renovations, Mark Spitz “still holds that within him, even though New York will never be what it was before” (“Colson Whitehead”). What Mark Spitz knew as New York growing up is what he considers normal. It is what he knows, what he is familiar with, and what he desires to exist. He has no true desire to enjoy what New York is becoming, and to accept the changes as his new normal. Instead, he still clings to his past. Whether it is the inspiration of his uncle and desire to be like him, or his choice to stay in Zone One instead of attempting to make it to the terminal (Whitehead 321), Mark Spitz shows attachment to New York as he knew it and will not allow further changes to change his perspective of New York.

        Ultimately Zone One proves to be a novel concerned with consumerism and how this ideology influences a society to cling to its past. People want what is familiar to them, which is the familiarity the “marketing of culture” carefully designed (“Colson Whitehead on Zombies”). Consumerism is not only in Zone One, or 1970s New York, but it also plays a crucial role in today’s society. Materialistic tendencies are all over today’s culture, and Whitehead shows the dangers and hollowness these types of tendencies bring. In the end various social classes may divide society, but we are all a product of consumerism. Our lives and actions intend to be different or to stand out, but end up being a slightly different variation of something we have already seen or heard. Zone One emphasizes that the human instinct to cleave to the past is a result of consumerism and nostalgia, thoroughly represented throughout Zone One.

Works Cited
Katz, Michael. The Undeserving Poor. New York: Oxford UP, 2012.
Saldívar, Ramón. "The Second Elevation Of The Novel: Race, Form, And The Postrace Aesthetic In Contemporary Narrative." Narrative21.1 (2013): 1-18. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 22 Apr. 2016.
Sorensen, Leif. "Against the Post-Apocalyptic: Narrative Closure in Colson Whitehead’s Zone One." Academic Search Complete [EBSCO]. Contemporary Literature, 1 Sept. 2014. Web. 22 Apr. 2016.
Whitehead, Colson. “Colson Whitehead on Zombies, ‘Zone One,’ and His Love of the VCR” Conducted by Joe Fassler. The Atlantic. 18 October 2011. Web.
Whitehead, Colson. Zone One. New York: Anchor Books, 2011. Print.

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Intern
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Re: Rate my Marxism essay please!  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Aug 2016, 10:08
Hi Linda

Just one quick question, is this in preparation for the TOEFL test or another test or assignment?

Thanks
Francois
GMAT Club Bot
Re: Rate my Marxism essay please!   [#permalink] 28 Aug 2016, 10:08
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