Good As Gold Analysis

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Title:Retracing Identity: An Interplay of Elite Power and Family Ethics in Joseph Heller’s Good as Gold
Scholar: SabaZahoor (JamiaMilliaIslamia, New Delhi)
Email:sabazk83@gmail.com
Contact: +918076379569

Abstract:
This paper will be exploring Joseph Heller’s novel Good as Gold in the light of the American sociologist C. Wright Mills’ landmark work The Power Elite (1956). Mills in his work gives a similar picture of post World War II America as portrayed by Heller’s Good as Gold, where the big organizations like government and bureaucracy, directly or indirectly, holds every decision concerning an individual, taking away even the slightest chances of freedom. Whether it is the army and capitalist organizations run by the elites like
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Pointing at the fragmentation that has set in at the familial level, Mills in Power Elite observes, “family institutions are not autonomous centres of national power; on the contrary, these decentralized areas are increasingly shaped by the big three, in which developments of decisive and immediate consequence now occur.” This decentralization is something that is being seen repeatedly in Gold’s relationship to his family and to his Jewish roots, a relationship which he detests for his desire to join the bureaucracy and be one amongst the power elite. As an academician and a partner in a marriage of long standing, Gold feels at loss on both fronts as he sees his marriage as well as he career approaching a dead end. He feels trapped in a marriage that is decaying day by day and hence he has entered into a series of affairs. His family, particularly his father, brother, and sisters constantly tease him at family dinners. His children too are just a means of disappointment for him. But his long held job even though is not of much satisfaction to him is still a means of respite from his family: “…entering so prestigious a university and vastly relieved at escaping a large family of five sisters and one brother in which all his life he had felt both suffocated and unappreciated”. Since Gold’s presence does not count in his family, he expects more freedom outside. And later the chance of holding an office in Washington…show more content…
What Mills meant is that by creating the conditions of our lives, the power elite dictate what happens in society, and other institutions, like family, church, and education, have no choice but to arrange themselves around these conditions, in both material and ideological ways. He wrote, “Families and churches and schools adapt to modern life; governments and armies and corporations shape it; and, as they do so, they turn these lesser institutions into means for their ends.” The act of Gold’s abandoning his family and cultural roots, so much so that he finds it disgraceful to be associated with his Jewish heritage just to make his way up in the power hierarchy of the White House, is an affirmation of Mill’s stance of how the Power Elite shape and control the lives of an individual, directly or indirectly, making him deny his basic
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