Everything that fuels the off kilter nature of the world:
There was a ton of product placement in this story, which I found to be a little off putting; however, in line with Saunders. The product placement and the words used to describe places and things were so simplistic that it clued me into the average consumerism of the people in this world (i.e. the scene where Min and Jade are actually paying attention to the phone sex commercials). Another thing that clued me into the inherent “off-ness” of the world was the morbidity of all the tv shows. Everything they seemed to watch seemed to be something about unlikely, unfair, or untimely deaths. That was really, actually incredibly off putting because what kind of society actually watches this sort of thing? To me that really clued me in that something not only bad was going to happen (foreshadowing of Bernie), but wholistically just how fucked up society had become within this story.
Theme of “nice guys finish last”:
Okay, so this point is best demonstrated through examples:
- Bernie: Bernie lived her whole life as a good person and didn’t get anything; in fact, she was so vehemently optimistic that the people in her life didn’t even appreciate her. They complained that she was too optimistic, but when she came back she was a tyrant who actively realized her life had literally amounted to nothing.
- The narrator: He’s stuck in a state of poverty with his idiotic family for whatever reason. His state of poverty cannot be improved by him following the rules of his work (no showing his cock, no kissing people) and he’s uncomfortable with breaking those rules, but it’s only when he begins defying those rules that he’s able to adequately provide for the babies and the girls.
- Every minor character that is a horrible person has some sort of great reward for their awful demeanor.
- Freddie: He’s a gigantic asshole to the kids, but he lives in a sufficiently better neighborhood. He’s also judgemental about the kids.
- Len: He’s a total creep that looks down people’s shirts and wants to sleep with his assistants, but he’s better off than the people that work for him.
Literally every good person in this book ends up in a total state of debacle. It’s almost comical how true to the theme everything in this book is.