My Financial Career

by Stephen Leacock

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Can you give an example of humor from "My Financial Career"?

Quick answer:

The humor in "My Financial Career" is mainly derived from the narrator's exaggerated nervousness and the subsequent comedic situations. Examples include the pretentious title implying a grand financial journey, the narrator's insistence on a private meeting for a simple transaction, and the quick withdrawal of his just-deposited money. The humor culminates in his decision to keep his money in his trousers and his savings in a sock.

Expert Answers

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The first example of humor in Stephen Leacock's short story "My Financial Career" is the inappropriate nature of the title. The grandiloquent words lead the reader to expect the story of a true titan of finance who made millions on Wall Street, but in fact the story consists of a short and unsuccessful visit to a high street bank.

The pattern of build-up and bathos continues as the narrator, through a nervousness he keeps emphasizing, insists on seeing the manager "alone" for a simple, routine transaction that ends up being handled by the first person to whom he speaks. The manager is frightened, assuming he is dealing with a private detective, then contemptuous when he realizes the small sum actually being deposited— another example of the story's characteristic technique of building up expectations to a bathetic conclusion. This comic device is repeated when the narrator deposits his fifty-six dollars and then mistakenly withdraws it all again immediately, and when he reveals his current financial arrangements, now that he has had enough of banks:

I keep my money in cash in my trousers pocket and my savings in silver dollars in a sock.

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