What absurdities of contemporary life does the story satirize?

Asked on by natachaf

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that one of the modern absurdities that Allen satirizes is the husband and wife relationship.  Kugelmass is obviously in a dour relationship with Daphne.  Neither one of them has the energy or spirit to move on, so they stay with one another through atrition. It is for this reason that Kugelmass is so taken with Emma.  There is an obvious romanticizing of Kugelmass's "love" with Emma.  When this wanes and she becomes as disenchanted with Kugelmass, it is a satirizing of how modern relationships find disenchantment so easily.  Even when he considers Emma to be immune because she is embedded in literature, it turns out that she is no different than Daphne.  Kugelmass thus has the same challenges in both wife and girlfriend.  At the same time, another element that is satirized is the study of literary theory and literary criticism.  Allen makes it clear that a penchant of many in the academy is to fall in "love" with literature, primarily because it can avoid having to deal with the difficult realities of modern existence.  Allen is satirizing how the modern academic can be enamored with their field of study at the cost of their own emotional attachments in the real world.


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