A Cool Million Themes & Motifs

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Parody

West continuously uses the tone and structure of Horatio Alger’s rags to riches stories to parody their position in American culture. West ends the book with a fascist dictatorship in power, achieved through the same rhetoric Alger used in his novels. He singled out Alger because he believed his novels offered a dangerously misleading argument to the masses. The popularity of Alger’s novels hinges on their promise that all Americans can achieve wealth through hard work and honesty. Their optimistic tone and two-dimensional characters sugarcoated the realities of life during the Great Depression, when American mythology had difficulty explaining the incredible hardship the country faced.

In the Alger’s stories, heroes fall into trouble only to learn from the experience and advance to a new level, two steps forward one step back. In A Cool Million, Lemuel often moves one step forward two steps...

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This section contains 1,955 words
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Buy the A Cool Million Study Guide
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