Why does Greg say each step must be done perfectly or no one would want to spend money on his comic books in Andrew Clements's Lunch Money?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In Andrew Clements's Lunch Money, Greg, a natural-born businessman, understands the consumer's mind. He understands that consumers expect high quality and will not pay for an item they think has been made poorly. He also understands that merchandise sells faster and ultimately earns more profit if it is high-quality merchandise sold at the lowest possible price, which makes consumers believe they are getting a bargain. Therefore, the reason why Greg cares about making his comic books perfect is because he cares about two things: quality and profit. At the start of the story, however, Greg thinks he only cares about profit; it's Maura who points out he cares about more than just profit.

We first learn just how much Greg cares about quality when he begins making his comic books. He sets about learning how to make books by folding pieces of paper in the right way; figuring out how to print the pages of his book onto one sheet of paper, front and back; and learning how to carefully fold and assemble his book. Altogether, Greg develops a 10-step process for writing, printing, and assembling his books. As he assembles his first edition, he thinks to himself that "each of the ten steps had to be done perfectly, or no one would ever want to spend money on his little comics" (33). No one would want to spend money on the comic books, he reasons, because no one would take them seriously if they are of poor quality.

Despite the fact that his actions show he cares about quality, not just about profit, Greg keeps insisting he only cares about making money. By chapter 16, when Greg and Maura begin working on the comic book series together, Maura disagrees with his idea that making money is the only important thing and even doubts he really feels that way. In her mind, what's important is making things both she and other people enjoy. Just as she made pot holders to sell because they "were beautiful," she wants to learn how to make these books because she feels her work is of high quality. Though Greg thinks they disagree—he values money, whereas she values beauty—Maura proves him wrong when he criticizes three books she assembles that look sloppy. When Maura says she thinks kids will buy them even if they're not perfect, Greg makes the following very revealing retort:

Doesn't matter. They're too sloppy. Chunky Comics have to be perfect—or at least a lot better than these three are (136).

Maura points out to Greg that what he has just said proves he doesn't just care about profit since he said he doesn't just care if the books will sell; he cares about producing a high-quality good that people will actually value and enjoy.