Sherman McCoy, a thirty-eight-year-old Wall Street investment banker who earns a million dollars a year trading in bonds. At the peak of his career, he considers himself a “Master of the Universe.” Sherman, for all his faults, is one of the entrepreneurs who bring billions of dollars into New York City to feed, clothe, and house its inhabitants. He is married and has a young daughter but maintains an adulterous relationship with a sexy Southern belle. Their affair leads to disaster when they are attacked by two teenage African Americans after they make a wrong turn off the expressway. One of the predators is seriously injured by Sherman’s Mercedes while Sherman’s panicked mistress is behind the wheel. The media quickly present the incident as if a wealthy white person callously left an innocent black youth to die on the pavement after running him down in his luxury car. This presentation pressures the police into making a major investigation. When Sherman is identified, he is thrown into jail with hardened criminals. He loses his job and his large income because his company is afraid of adverse publicity. He is stripped of his assets while defending himself in a first trial that is thrown out of court and a second trial that ends with a hung jury. The experience toughens him. He has always been protected by money and social status but becomes an impoverished, radical urban guerrilla fighting the justice system and the ignorant masses who are deluded by a black demagogue and the venal press. At the conclusion of the novel, the injured black teenager has died of his injuries and Sherman faces a possible sentence of up to twenty-five years if convicted of manslaughter in his third trial.
Judy McCoy, Sherman’s fading wife, who knows he is having an affair and does not care. She fancies herself an artist and interior decorator and manages to keep Sherman broke by spending all of his income on...
(The entire section is 805 words.)