ANALYSIS 7 Essay: The Company Man The typical business man involved in corporate America works anywhere from six to ten hours per day. Phil, “the Company Man” worked six days a week sometimes until eight or nine at night, making himself a true workaholic. Using his life story before he died Goodman is able to convey her liking toward Phil but her dislike of what the business world has turned him into. Not only does Goodman use a number of rhetorical devices but she also uses Phil’s past as well as the people who were once in Phil’s life to get her message across to her reader.
Ellen Goodman sarcastically creates the obituary of a man who dedicated his life to his job and the company he worked for. Goodman uses anaphora, satire, diction, sentence structure, and selection of detail to complete her obituary of this “Company Man”. Emphasizing the fact that Phil worked himself to death, Goodman chose pure sarcasm to make this particular emphasis.
She shows through this repeated phrases, that he must have chosen work over family quite often, working to provide for his family which resulted in the simple fact that “he worked himself to death, finally and precisely, at 3:00a. m Sunday morning.
Goodman’s use of repetition leads to show her satirical writing. “On Saturdays, Phil wore a sports jacket to the office instead of a suit, because it was the weekend” shows Goodman’s use of satire in one of the many examples throughout the obituary. Toward the end of the essay, Goodman describes how the company president starts the funeral with a hint of sarcasm, “discreetly of course, with care and taste” using a tongue and cheek method to provide a subtle shift in tone. The president then begins to question who will replace Phil ending with a paradoxical sentence “‘Who’s been working the hardest? ” getting down to the business of replacing Phil, providing another example of a stereotypical business approach. The vivid diction describes the sarcasm that Goodman has towards Phil. Goodman composes her paragraphs with careful rhythm and beat; she repeats “finally,” “precisely” and “perfect” three times. Phil’s constancy and lack of variation are embodied in rigid words such as “always,” “of course,” and “Type A. ” Extreme diction such as “overweight,” “nervous,” and “workaholic” convey Phil as a worrywart with no fun at all in his life.
These words mock Phil as a man sincerely obsessed with work that had lost track of his priorities. Goodman deepens her point when she introduces Phil’s family, using diction in relation to business to further emphasize the importance of work to Phil. To Phil’s wife Helen, “A company friend said ‘I know how much you will miss him. ’ And she answered, ‘I already have. ’” His eldest son tells the reader of how he went around the neighborhood gathering research on his father. His daughter recalls how whenever she was alone with him they had nothing to say to each other.
When Phil’s youngest son reminisces on how he tried to mean enough to his father to keep him at home. Goodman informs the reader that the youngest child was Phil’s favorite. Goodman’s sentence structure of long, short, long, helps the shorter sentence stick out more to the reader. But she ends the paragraph with a sad ironic sentence, “My father and I only board here. ” implying that he never really was successful. The descriptions of Phil in “The Company Man” are sardonically accusatory of the present way people live in society.
Goodman makes light of how Phil is a heart attack waiting to happen, his seventy-hour workweeks and egg sandwiches. “Of course,” used thee times, translates as the acceptance that we have towards intolerable living conditions in order to fulfill the American dream. Like many Americans, Phil is constantly obsessed about his work and whether or not he will ascend to the top position. Through these details she describes the monotonous, repetitive way that society exists today. Throughout the column, images negatively portray the lifestyle that Phil lives.
Superficially, all seems well because his family lives a comfortable existence. Emotionally, however, his family has missed his emotional support for years. His wife, Helen, gave up “trying to compete with his work years ago. ” All of his children grew up in a so-called normal family with a father and mother. At his funeral, though, they do not have enough memories about him to say a proper eulogy. Phil himself was “overweight” and unhealthy, obsessed with work and negligent with his personal life. Goodman condemns the lifestyle that Phil leads by using negative and poignant imagery.
Ellen Goodman develops an attitude of pity for Phil, and resentment for the company through rhetorical techniques by portraying that to his wife and to his children, Phil had become so consumed with his position as one of the Important People that he had all but completely removed himself from their emotional reach for the sake of his company life. Goodman’s vision of the corporate world and its influence and affect on our lives is portrayed through her diction and choice of detail in her anecdote of the reflection of the life of the A-Type, workaholic, Phil.
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