Social Class in Relation to Caucasia
Sandy Lee, from Danzy Senna’s novel, Caucasia is born and raised into a very wealthy and well- known family. Sandy comes from the wealthy town of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Therefore, her father was a respected professor at Harvard University. Sandy received her high school diploma from Buckingham School, and gets accepted to Brandeis, which she later turned down. Sandy didn’t fit in around her community and was a rebel. She also tries to escape her upper-class lifestyle by marrying Deck, an African American who is a part of the lower class. In my essay I will argue that throughout her life, Sandy’s upper-class upbringing still impacts her personality and actions, despite her drop in economic status. I will use Paul Fussell’s essay, “A Touchy Subject” and James Lowen’s “The Land of Opportunity” to help support the central idea that although Sandy adjusted her economic status she couldn’t rid of her social status, even if she tried. In the beginning of the novel, Sandy reminisces about her childhood. She tells her two daughters, Birdie and Cole, about her life before she met their father. Sandy remembers growing up in Cambridge, Massachusetts and being a part of the higher level social class. Sandy had many opportunities as she grows up, supporting the fact that she was raised in a higher class society. She attended Buckingham School, an all girls’ school. Although she received a good education, her physical appearance had never allowed for her to develop a social life. Birdie states, “She had been a hefty and pensive girl in a world of lithe and winsome debutantes, girls who accepted their good fortunes with style and manners” (Senna 32). This meant that Sandy was out of out of place in her own society because of her appearance. Women of her society were thought to have flat, fragile, hard bodies, the complete opposite of Sandy. After Sandy meets and marries Deck, her economic status drops a few levels. Sandy goes from...
References: required’” (Senna 144). The author makes sure that she includes “references required” in the ad, because we know Sandy cannot provide them. If Sandy had not changed her identity, the landlord would follow up on her references and figure out the real reason why she was in New Hampshire.
Sandy manages to set up an interview and meets with the landlords, the Marshes. Birdie remembers: “We sipped the smoky tea from chipped blue cups. They asked my mother inconsequential questions, but I could see it was a way of proving that she spoke the language” (Senna 149). Sandy “acts” well to them and convinces them to allow her to rent the cottage without references. The reason why the Marshes didn’t bother to question Sandy for her references because they could tell she was one of “them”. Since Sandy was a part of the middle class, the Marshes believed that she didn’t have a criminal past. According to Terence Thornberry and Margaret Farnworth, if you are in a lower class, you are more likely to commit crimes that involve police, rather if you are in a higher class (Thornberry, Farnworth 506). Because Sandy had the benefits of being raised in a high class family she knew how to act around other upper-class people, despite the fact that she had low income and was running from the Feds.
In conclusion, no matter how hard Sandy tries to escape her social background, it always comes back to play an important role in her life. In other words, she sometimes unwillingly relies on her upbringings to help her get by from day to do day when the economic aspect doesn’t affect her as much, especially when she and Birdie are on the run. Throughout this essay it is supported from scenes in Caucasia and excerpts from the essays “A Touchy Subject”, “A Land of Opportunity, “Social Correlations of Criminal Involvement”, and “Reconstructing Gender”, that throughout Sandy’s life, her upbringing still impacts her personality and actions despite her drop in economic status.
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