Books and Movies Reviews

Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire of the Vanities

Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire of the Vanities is an entertaining, amusing, yet serious story. It sheds light on the imperfections of man and says a lot about human nature, mostly negative. In the following paper, I'll discuss some of Wolfe's underlying themes and try to interpret what he wants the reader to take away from his book. Some of the things I'll talk about are class roles, the perception of ethnicity and race, money issues, self image, and lastly women's' issues.
We'll start off with the subject of class roles and differences. Sherman's ride through the Bronx is one of the best displays of these roles and differences. Here, a rich white couple is utterly lost in the worst part of the Bronx. They are driving a $48,000 Mercedes absolutely scared out of there minds. Sherman is in such fear of the locals he refuses to stay stopped at red lights because he thinks he might be attacked. The actions of Sherman and Maria prove how far apart the social classes in America really are. Two people from the upper class can't even feel normal driving through a part of a lower class neighborhood. The separation between rich and poor is incredible.
The conversation between Reverend Bacon, Moody, and Fiske also correctly portrays the class gap. Bacon talks about how the upper class simply helps the lower class out of fear. They want to lower the "steam effect" and keep the lower class happy. The success of the upper class relies on a content lower class. In order for the rich to stay rich they need the poor to stay poor.
Next, I'll talk about the perception of ethnicity. People in this novel are very ethnocentric and Wolfe uses this fact to bring out their prejudices against people that aren't like them.
One of the main groups that gets picked on are people of Jewish decent. Kramer's coworkers Andriutti and Caughey say, "Did you know that Jewish guys – all ha…


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