Write about how one character from Morris Lurie's 'Pride and Joy' is presented and how this character develops key concerns in the story.

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Jacob Goering

September 24, 2005

Write about how one character from Morris Lurie’s ‘Pride and Joy’ is presented and how this character develops key concerns in the story.

Billy in Morris Lurie’s ‘Pride and Joy’ is initially presented as a 16 year old boy who literally lives his life in the footsteps of his abusive, irresponsible, bohemian father, Ned Mathews.  By the end of the story Billy’s character has undergone a transformation to become his own person; he has broken away from his father.  This short story is told in first person narrative by an anonymous narrator.  This narrator is a tourist on an island in the “Great Barrier Reef” who tells his account of his encounter with millionaire Ned Mathews and his son, Billy.  Through his characterization of Billy, Morris Lurie conveys themes of self realization, responsibility, judgment, and parenting.  This essay will show how Billy’s characterization develops Morris Lurie’s themes.  

Wealth, ownership, control and his desire for his father’s approval shows how Lurie, through his characterization of Billy conveys his theme of lifestyle choices.  Ever since Billy and his father come to the island they act like they own everything and everyone on it.  When they go to eat breakfast in the morning, Billy deals with the “very pretty” waitress like she is a prostitute, “‘What’s ya name, honey? he said ‘Why?’ said the girl. ‘I always like to know the names of the girls I sleep with.”  Lurie’s use of a colloquial language and inappropriate language such as ‘honey’ and ‘sleep with’ during Billy’s dialogue with a waitress show his desire to control a situation and to please his father; “‘Easy, son’ said Mathews, but his face was beaming with pride.  Billy’s self-confident and commanding swagger, “He [Billy] walked with an exaggerated swagger” is an example of a movement which Lurie associates with Billy to show yet another aspect of his desire to dominate over everyone else in the restaurant.  By exploring Billy’s inappropriate choice of lifestyle in great detail, Lurie expresses his theme, which is to take care when choosing your lifestyle.

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Billy’s desire to please his father and to control is reiterated by the motif of alcohol.    Billy is too young to be drinking as much alcohol as he does, yet he does and he does it to please his father and to control by demonstrating that he is able to drink as much as his father.  This is shown in the quotation, “His son [Billy] matched him drink for drink.” Lurie’s use of the narrator’s voice is very significant here because the narrator is presented to readers as very moral and sensible, so when the narrator talks about ...

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