Posted: October 17th, 2013
There are many interpretations of what a good life should be. An analysis of four characters from four books may give an insight into the different perspectives of what a good life is. Looking at the lives of Abdulrahman Zeitoun in “Zeitoun”, Bill Glegg in “Ninety Days”, Daniel Seulo in “The Man who Quit Money”, and All-American Poem by Mathew Dickman will serve this purpose. All these men have a different perspective of what a good life is and means by which one can achieve this. However, leading a good life in current times has been elusive for many, even for some of the characters in these books.
Abdulrahman Zeitoun is a Syrian immigrant living in New Orleans. He owns a painting and contracting company. He is the embodiment of the American dream. When Hurricane Katrina beckons, he sends his family away, and he stays behind to watch over his house. When the hurricane is over, he helps his neighbors by taking them to higher ground and offering supplies to them. Later, he is detained without trial for twenty-three days on suspicion of terrorism (Eggers 44). This was a violation of his human and constitutional rights. A good life should be one that ensures human and constitutional rights are protected regardless of ones ethnic background.
“The Man who Quit Money” by Mark Sundeen presents a man, Daniel Seulo, in his happiest of circumstances. In 2000, he deposited his life savings worth 30 dollars in a phone booth yet he believes that he has never been so free in his life. Despite living without money, he says, “My wealth never leaves me” (Sundeen 38). Mark Sundeen tells a story of a man who was able to lead a happy life without being concerned about spending money or earning money. Daniel Seulo is a man who knows no taxes, or welfare.
In “Ninety Days” Bill Clegg tells a story of how he struggled to achieve sobriety from alcohol and drugs. To maintain his addictions, he once sold his mother’s silver ring; he got intoxicated in front of his sponsor and did many other things that he was not proud. His motivation for seeking a state of sobriety was his desire to lead a better life away from addiction. In the last chapter of his book, he points to the fact that people in ones endeavors to achieve sobriety are important and says, “If you are struggling with drugs and alcohol, they can help you too” (Clegg 203). According top bill Clegg, a happy life knows that people will support you when things go awry. No one can live alone and be successful. This is the message that we get from Bill Clegg and his struggle to remain sober.
“All-American poem” by Mathew Dickman, is a book that has various poems that portray American life in many aspects. However, he is consistent in asserting the fact that people need to enjoy life more. In his poem “All-American Poem”, he says /Let’s live downtown and go clubbing/, /God save hip-hop and famous mixed drinks/ (Dickman Lines 6-7). From his point of view, a good life means having a good time by going out top party and drinking. Matthew Dickman expresses the theme of enjoying oneself throughout several poems present in the book.
In my opinion, a good life is not depicted by success in riches but the ability to have lived one’s purpose in life. I believe the inborn abilities direct a person to their purpose and once harnessed to better others fulfillment is attained. Purpose and fulfillment found in bettering others is what I consider the good life. There have been various aspects of what a good life should entail from the different books. Each book points to the fact that happiness a concept unique to different people. What make one happy will not make the other happy. I agree with the position that happiness is unique to the different needs people have. Therefore, the choice for leading a good life cannot be decided by anyone else but you.
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