My Financial Career

by Stephen Leacock

Start Free Trial

Student Question

What aspects of "My Financial Career" can be critically appreciated beyond the humor?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

You could critically appreciate Stephen Leacock's effective use of simple English, including his natural dialogue. "My Financial Career," like most of Leacock's other humorous essays, is so easy to read that he sounds like an intelligent friend talking to the reader as a friend and confidant. Leacock made an extremely strong impression on Robert Benchley, one of the very best American humorists, who said somewhere that he had written everything Leacock ever wrote. Not read, Benchley said, but written. In other words, Benchley took the same subjects and expressed his feelings in his own also extremely simple, reader-friendly language. Leacock's writing seems so simple that it is easy to overlook the artistry that went into it. Notice the extremely short paragraphs and single lines of dialogue. This is the kind of writing that used to be called "light summer reading," the kind of writing that students like to read during summer vacation while lounging around the swimming pool.

You could also critically appreciate Leacock's characterization and his description of the setting. When we read "My Financial Career" we feel we are inside that big bank with its thick walls and somber, silent and sterile interior. We can see those tellers hiding inside their cages, and we can visualize the bank manager, who has to act very poised, self-confident, dependable, and "in charge," but is very easily frightened because his business is a prime target for dangerous criminals. Willie Sutton, the famous bank robber, once said that he robbed banks because that was where the money was.

You might also compare Leacock with the great Mark Twain. Both men used wild exaggeration to achieve humorous effects. Leacock was undoubtedly influenced by Mark Twain, who published many short humor pieces during his career.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial