My Financial Career

by Stephen Leacock

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Discussion Topic

The narrator's experience at the bank in "My Financial Career."

Summary:

In "My Financial Career," the narrator's experience at the bank is marked by anxiety and awkwardness. He feels nervous and out of place, which leads to a series of clumsy and embarrassing actions, such as mistakenly telling the manager he wants to open a large account and fumbling with his money and paperwork. This reflects his discomfort with financial institutions.

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Why did the narrator in "My Financial Career" go to a bank?

My Financial Career” is a short story by Stephen Leacock. The story is written in the first person and tells the reader about a person going to the bank in order to open a bank account. We don’t know why, but the narrator seems to be very nervous about going to the bank. This can be seen in the statement “when I go into a bank I get rattled.” This statement clearly indicates to the reader that the narrator is not happy about going to the bank: instead, it makes him feel very uneasy.

Despite his initial nervousness about having to enter a bank, the narrator perseveres with his plan to open a bank account with this bank. This is because he wants to deposit his money, rather than keeping it at home. Following a recent pay rise, the narrator now is in possession of a fairly big amount of money, which he feels is unsafe to keep any longer at home. Instead, he wants to have it held secure in the bank: he “felt that the bank was the only place for it.”

Unfortunately, his undertaking of trying to open a bank account goes wrong, mainly because he feels so nervous and anxious. The condescending reactions of the bank manager and the other bank clerk only increase this anxiety further. This leads to the narrator ironically withdrawing all the money that he had just intended to pay into his bank account. But not only that—he found his experience in the bank so horrible that he has no intention of ever using a bank again. Instead, the narrator tells us that he “keep[s] [his] money in cash in [his] trousers pocket and [his] savings in silver dollars in a sock.”

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What happens to the narrator at the bank in "My Financial Career"?

As soon as he sets foot in the bank, the narrator feels incredibly nervous. Everything about banks makes him feel jittery: the clerks, the sight of money, the little windows at the counters. All in all, a trip to the bank is a terrifying ordeal for the narrator.

In fact, the narrator's so nervous he accidentally blunders into a safe. More fun and games are in store when he makes his way to the counter. He'd originally planned to deposit fifty-six dollars, but then withdraw six dollars for personal use. (Why he didn't just deposit fifty dollars and keep the rest is a mystery. Perhaps it was all down to his feeling nervous).

In any case, when the narrator tries to draw a check on his account, he accidentally writes fifty-six instead of six in his checkbook. This means that, to the astonishment of the bank clerks, he ends up withdrawing all of the money he'd only just deposited in his account.

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Why does the narrator enter the bank in "My Financial Career"?

"My Financial Career" is a short story written by Stephen Leacock. It follows the story of a man's very confusing first visit to a bank.

Right at the start of this short story, when the author tells us that the protagonist is entering the bank building, we read that the protagonist of the story "shambled in." This is a very interesting choice of words, as usually one would expect the author to use a simple and neutral verb such as "to enter" or "to step into." The verb "to shamble," however, conveys a lot more than just the mere process of entering a building. In fact, you might want to point out that "to shamble" is defined as "to walk awkwardly with dragging feet." Therefore, the fact that the author chose "shambled" instead of the other choices, which may seemingly have been more obvious, tells the reader straight away that the protagonist feels very insecure and nervous.

The narrator clearly isn't rushing to get into the bank; he is walking slowly and nervously. We know that the protagonist is very nervous when he has to go to a bank, as the author tells us this right at the start of this short story: "When I go into a bank I get rattled." The only reason why the narrator had decided to go into the bank was because he had received a pay rise, and he had felt that he should deposit this money into a bank account. Otherwise, given the fact that banks make him so nervous, he probably wouldn't have chosen to go to the bank at all.

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