Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Company Man

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The Company Man, written by Ellen Goodman in the 170s, was written to illustrate how a family can be damaged by a father doing the right things the wrong way. Ellen Goodman used the example of Phil, an over-weight married father of three and successful business man, to get her point across. To Phil, work came before anything else, including his family, his happiness, and his health. Phil died on a Sunday, which is ironic because that was his only day off. This essay shows that Ellen Goodmans idea about company men in general is that they neglect what is most important for something trivial like a promotion or a raise. Phil was so blinded by what he thought was important that he spent his entire life focused on work, never seeing the bigger picture and what mattered the most--his family.

With good intentions in mind to be a good father and provide for his family, Phil went overboard. This is shown on one instance when Goodman writes, He worked six days a week, five of them until eight or nine at night, during a time when his own company had begun the four-day week for everyone but the executives. Phil never had time for anything outside of his work, not even his family.

His wife, Helen, gave up the battle of competing with his work, finally seeing that she would, at best, only come second. It is clearly shown in the essay that although Phils physical body has just passed, his emotional body died a long time ago. This point is shown in a comment made at the funeral directed to the wife from a co-worker when he said,I know how much you will miss him. And Helens reply was,” I already have.

Phils oldest child, a son, is following in his fathers footsteps, working the majority of the time, as an executive in a manufacturing firm. He rarely sees or even speaks with his family. Goodman shows in just a few words that the son has no shame when she states, In the day and a half before the funeral, he went around the neighborhood researching his father, asking the neighbors what he was like.

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When talking about Phils middle child a girl, Goodman shows that the daughter longs for relationships. Goodman writes, She lives near her mother and they are close, but whenever she was alone with her father, in a car driving somewhere, they had nothing to say to each other. This statement shows that the daughter is open to relationships, but doesnt really know her father well enough to have one.

Again we see the damage that is being done in the family by the father when Goodman talks about the youngest child, a son. This child always tries to grab at his father and show him that he cares. No matter what he does, he never seems to get through to his father. Because the son fails to catch his fathers attention, he is living a life that will lead to nowhere, finding enough odd jobs to smoke marijuana and eat.

So much damage was done by the way that Phil chose to live his life. Not intentionally but obliviously, he causes so much destruction that wont just go away because of his death, but will continue to destroy more lives if there isnt a turning point in the lives that were hurt to begin with, Phils family. Phil was so blinded by what he thought was important that he spent his entire life focused on work, never seeing the bigger picture and what mattered the most -- his family.

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