Joanna Kolczynska

Good life means different things to different people. Consider how good life is represented in at least two works you studied.
Good life seems as a very basic concept to all of us, yet surprisingly it may mean completely different things to different people. For some good life is just a happy, carefree life, still for others it is is the life free from fear or pain. It seems that our interpretation of this term may be strongly determined by our environment and current living standards. For the purpose of this essay I decided to approach the idea of “good life” from two opposing angles – material and spiritual. I will refer to two literary works that I studied during my English course which in my opinion present the reader with two completely opposing interpretation of the meaning of the term “good life” - “Angela's Ashes” by Frank McCourt and “Catcher in the Rye” by Jerome David Salinger. The idea of good life on a material level is fully developed in “Angela's Ashes”. Extreme poverty pushes the protagonist, young Frank McCourt to consider life in more basic terms. To him good life means simply being able to satisfy his basic physiological needs – for example eating until he feels full seems like a luxury to him. He wishes he would be able to eat eggs or have a real Christmas stew instead of eating pig's head. Frank often feels humiliated by his poverty, it makes him an outcast at school as children laugh at the old shoes his father repaired for him. Due to those hardships of everyday life Frank seemingly starts to idealize the life in America and the concept of “American dream”. He wants to lead a happy careless life in his homeland and be able to support his family He does not dream of wealth, he just wants to live with dignity and that is why he struggles so hard against inflexible social structure that deprives him even of his basic right to education. Nevertheless, the fact that he living in firmly catholic environment make Frank unable to stay indifferent to life's moral dilemmas. Since the earliest years of his life, school and church implemented in him a firm belief that good life is life lived in complete accordance with ten commandments. As the plot unveils, we discover that Frank is not always able to stay true to the guidelines of his religion. First and foremost, he must fight for survival and satisfying the material needs of his family and himself, only after that he is able to care about more complex moral issues. Of course he is very often accompanied by the feeling of guilt. This is perfectly exemplified by his work for a moneylender. He writes threatening lenders to her debtors and after her death he steals her money. Although he feels remorse, it does not stop him from undertaking those actions that would finally enable him to make his American dream a reality. The situation of Holden Caufield, a protagonist of “Catcher in the Rye” is completely contrary to that of Frank McCourt. He seems to live a good life if we were to judge only by his material status. He attends prestigious prep schools, he does not know the real feeling of deprivation or hunger. Holden does not have to fear the tomorrow, yet surprisingly he seems to be even more scared of future than Frank is. The fact that Holden does not have to care about material issues causes him to consider life on deeper, more spiritual level. He is critical towards people who care only about material aspects of their existence. Opposite to Frank he not only does not believe in American dream but also considers people who live such plain “good life” phoney. For Holden a truly “good” life is a life free of that phoniness. He believes that it should be determined only by moral standards. Still, at the beginning of the novel we see that Holden does not know what kind of life he wants to live. He is extremely critical towards everyone as he sees mendacity hidden under the cover of social aptness. The whole book seems to be a record of his search for the meaning of life, a journey he undertakes in order to

interpret this concept in various ways. only seemingly simple. . just as different real-life people. All the above mentioned examples show that literature presents us with different ideas about the meaning of the term good life. In the end he seems to come to the conclusion that to live a good life one must stay true to his “inner child”.find the exact definition of good life. term means to us. Only by protecting the child in us (famous Catcher in the rye metaphor) from falling into the abyss of social conventions and low ethical standards may we remain morally pure and manage to escape omnipresent hypocrisy. It is only due to our own personal judgement to choose what this. Depending on their living conditions and ethical beliefs the characters.

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