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Character Synthesis: “The Technology of Simplicity” and “A Bedside Story”

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Materialism and consumerism prevent people from understanding and appreciating what is truly important in life. This is a truth recognized by the narrator in “The Technology of Simplicity” by Mark A. Burch and by George Longarrow in “A Bedside Story” by Gilles Pinette. In both passages it is clear the characters disdain for the consumerist attitude associated with the todays world. Although they have a similar view on materialism it is for different reasons. In “The Technology of Simplicity”, the narrator has developed an appreciation for simplicity, and contempt for materialism in modern society. Through years of meditative hours of hunting the narrator gains clarity on how to savour moments. The narrator exemplified this when he describes the long tedious time in the forest saying, “I felt a contentment so deep that it seemed I was absorbed in a timeless dream.” His appreciation manifests into distaste for consumerism. He believes appreciation is lost stating, “the very rate at which consumption proceeds virtually negates the possibility of attentiveness and mindfulness.” He witnesses this lack of mindfulness as his children open presents on Christmas. Although the children are intrigued by the beauty of the wrapping paper and ribbons, they are hastily shown to forgo the packaging in favour of what was inside.

Once they opened their presents and began to play they where quickly bombarded with another gift, leaving no time to appreciate and enjoy each object. The narrator, observing the Christmas mourning festivities, denounces “life in the consumer society [as] the moment of newness, the adrenaline rush of discovery”, and lack of attentiveness. Throughout the story it is evident the narrators dislike for consumerist society stems from the rate of consumption and lack of appreciation associated with it. In “A Bedside Story”, George Longarrow is similarly uninterested in the materialism of todays world; however, he is not concerned about rate of consumption but more focused on appreciation of family. Longarrow lives, as his daughter Hope would describe, a “backwards, old-fashioned life”; evident by his refusal to install a home telephone. His rejection of modern society drives his daughter away on bad terms. After five years of no communication, Hope returns home with two kids. George, being a family man, welcomes them with open arms.

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