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A Chilly Milly

In The Travel Habit, West (1) by Aadi1 Comment

A Cool Million by Nathanael West reflects on optimism during the great depression. He speaks on the idea that a naive sense of optimism could lead to people being taken advantage of. The author shows this through the main character, Lem. Lem constantly let his optimistic nature step in the way of him making sound decisions, which leads him to be …

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A Mockery of the American Dream

In The Travel Habit, West (1) by Amar1 Comment

Nathanael West’s piece, A Cool Million, is best described as a satire of the American dream. Using the backdrop of the 1930s, Lem’s struggles escalate with infuriating intensity as he is both cheated and robbed countlessly. At first, the young Vermonter appears foolish due to a lack of education or rural upbringing, but Lem also makes the mistake of seeing …

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Optimism of the American Boy

In The Travel Habit, West (1) by KirilLeave a Comment

I find it amusing that I scrolled through parts of the book prior to knowing that it was parody; though it is abundantly clear once one knows that fact, it is jarring to read over some of the heavier lines about rape and prostitution—for instance the paragraph describing Wu Fong’s belief that he’ll get his money back on the 12-year-old white …

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From Rags to ?

In The Travel Habit, West (1) by EsabelleYCLeave a Comment

Lemuel Pitkin is our young hero in “A Cool Million”, a hopelessly hopeful pursuer of the American Dream. This young boy leaves home for the big city in the hope of making a fortune and save his family. Like every other dream chaser, our little hero here also sets out on the advice of some admired elders, and always trusts …

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Triple the ripple Whipple

In The Travel Habit, West (1) by CocoLeave a Comment

At first, the story of  “A Cool Million” seemed like a fairy tale, a bit further in maybe a fairy tale on steroids, later, one finds a mix of parody and greek tragedy. In it, Mr. Whipple struck me as the most interesting to analyze character.  When we are first introduced to the elderly man, he seems to be a …

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Losing an Eye for The American Dream

In The Travel Habit, West (1) by Agne1 Comment

A Cool Million by Nathanael West is a satire of the American dream that still applies to readers as it did in the 1930’s. The struggles of Lemuel Pitkin depict the struggles of anyone trying to reach the goal. Lemuel is incredibly naive and eternally optimistic even though he gets cheated and robbed, by both individuals and the larger organs …

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Dreaming of a New America

In The Travel Habit, West (1) by Dennis1 Comment

The full title of the book is A Cool Million: The Dismantling of Lemuel Pitkin and it acts a satire of the works of Horatio Alger. Alger’s works were often about young and impoverished boys and their rise from their unfortunate situations to a middle class life. In fact, the works of Horatio Alger were all so similar to each …

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Meaningless America

In The Travel Habit, West (1) by SnacksLeave a Comment

I found Nathaniel West’s A Cool Million to be the most difficult reading we’ve had this semester. Sure, it is outrageous, and at turns, morbidly funny, but mostly, it made me sad. The American experiment is depicted as meaningless. Expectation pervades the whole book. From the moment the onomatopoeically challenged family lawyer Mr. Slemp graciously comes into the house only …

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The Trouble with The American Dream

In The Travel Habit, West (1) by Melanie2 Comments

In Nathaniel West’s “A Cool Million” we finally see the concept of the “American Dream” that we have often encountered in other readings through a satirical lens. In the book, the main character Lem encounters an unbelievable number of struggles in his quest to becoming a wealthy man. He loses his teeth, scalp, one of his legs, an eye, and ultimately …

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No Place for a Hero

In The Travel Habit, West (1) by Lu Maw1 Comment

I could not help but laugh at the end of the story, when our hero, Lemur, dead but honored, and our heroine, Betty, in the position of Whipple’s secretary, finally helped Mr. Whipple achieve the American Dream. It is unlike most stories in that our hero is dead, but perhaps America is no place for a hero like Lemur. The …

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An Unattainable Million

In The Travel Habit, West (1) by Emily1 Comment

The story A Cool Million by Nathanael West contains the theme of optimism and shows how people can both profit from the naivety of others. The main character and “hero”, Lem, allows his optimistic nature to cloud his judgement, thus making him naive and prone to be taken advantage of. Initially, Lem is optimistic that he will make enough money to …

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Satire is as American as Apple Pie and Racial Tensions

In The Travel Habit, West (1) by IanLeave a Comment

A Cool Million reads as a great cartoon depiction of the 1930’s. The broad generalized characters and themes felt like something depicted in the Sunday newspaper. With all the empathy floating around in the 1930’s towards farmers in the impoverished flyover states it was nice to read West flipping around power structures to show that the big cities were just …

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Wall Street Villains

In The Travel Habit, West (1) by Michael1 Comment

Nazis, Russian spies, and the money-hungry executives of Wall Street. Writers, justifiably, must be careful not to offend or insult religious groups, minorities, interest groups, etc. in their writings, so they have seemingly agreed upon an acceptably group of “villains” that are so heinous that no one could possibly object. Nathaniel West’s A Cool Million portrayal of Wall Street is …

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It’s All Hopes and Dreams

In The Travel Habit, West (1) by Madison1 Comment

In times of economic turmoil, people come and go – everything around them is thrown into a vortex and they must respond quickly for their own security. Some people set out on the road; more often, people turn to their closest and most reliable resources: family and friends. Communities fall apart and are reborn amidst the struggle of recession, as …