Last Updated on January 23, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1283
The main character is nameless in the story; readers know him only through his diary entries. In this journal, he records whatever is on his mind, revealing his deepest longings and hidden anxieties. Essentially, he is obsessed with money. While attempting to be grateful for what he has, the protagonist cannot help but fixate on his old car, ugly yard, ho-hum job, and maxed-out credit cards. He compares everything he owns to what his wealthy neighbors have, and he sees his life as lacking. He comes from a modest background, reflecting sometimes on growing up poor with parents who always managed to make ends meet, but barely. They only ever had enough, especially after divorcing, and the narrator still feels the sting of his former poverty. Now he aspires to have better things for his family—to be wealthy and show it.
Semplica Girls are a particular obsession, as they represent utter luxury. When the narrator wins ten thousand dollars after buying a lottery ticket, he decides to throw his daughter Lilly a huge birthday party and redo the yard instead of paying the credit card bills. Greenway Landscaping does a beautiful job on his yard and includes four SGs. However, as fanatic as he is about money, the main character is not careful. In addition to maxing out his credit cards, he also enters a dangerous contract in which he is held liable for the full cost of the SGs—almost nine thousand dollars. For him, it is an unimaginable sum.
This character is written in an engaging manner, and readers can easily connect with his day-to-day concerns, even though the world he lives in has some shocking differences from the one readers know. Still, he loves his family, cares about his children's happiness, cherishes his wife, and strives to take care of everyone's wants and needs. In that sense, he is an everyman. Readers are supposed to see him as an average person who might be a neighbor. Because of that, the things he describes are particularly shocking and upsetting.
Eva is the narrator's youngest daughter and is very different from all the other characters. Sensitive and highly empathetic, she hates to see injustice and suffering in others. Eva is especially upset by the human slavery she perceives in the SGs. In pictures, she draws them as sad living dolls. She hates it when her father buys some for their yard.
In the end, ruled by her strong sense of right and wrong, and pushed by her emotions, Eva releases the family's SGs. She can't stand to see them in captivity. However, in doing so, Eva creates a major catastrophe for her family. Her action catapults her parents to confront their money choices in a dramatic way.
The eldest daughter in the narrator's family, Lilly is a girl who notices and likes nice things. She is gentle and friendly, not pushy or insistent, but she quietly cares what others think. For example, she wants expensive, grown-up gifts for her birthday, like porcelain figurines. It bothers her that her family does not have as much as she would like, yet she is sensitive to her parents' inability to provide the grandeur she craves.
Lilly is amazed at her surprise birthday party and loves the SGs her father purchases. It is especially gratifying when her rich friend, Leslie, is envious of their SG arrangement. By admiring the finer things in life, like her father, Lilly provides the impetus for spending extravagant amounts of money. She fixates on the SGs and validates her father's obsession by mirroring it herself.
Leslie is Lilly's wealthy friend who lives in a mansion full of extravagant things. Leslie is the definition of spoiled. Nothing is ever enough for her, and whenever she gets what she wants, another desire appears. For example, she once wanted llamas and now wants ponies, all which her mother cares for....
(The entire section contains 1283 words.)
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