Marxist Criticism of Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven

Eddie was born in a low class family. This condition gave the results of Eddie’s characters and life. His father is a belligerent drunk, not very supportive or caring towards his sons. He worked at Ruby Pier and often returned home drunk and was violent toward Eddie and Joe. This behavior might be appeared because of the oppression he got dealing with his economical condition. The way he treated his children then influenced in Eddie’s and Joe’s life too. They also got the oppression of the condition. Especially, the ideology of the American dream tells them that their self-worth is earned by economic success.

Eddie never had the desire to work at Ruby Pier like his father did since he desired to get an economically better life. Older he was, more oppression he got from the low class condition. To overcome this oppression, Eddie dreamed to be an engineer, but then he found that there was another faster way to get his self-worth, i.e. by participating the war. After Eddie returned from the war, he was very depressed and angry at what he had done with the rest of his life. He never had another career aside from Ruby Pier and he eventually moved back into the same apartment building, where he grew up, to take care of his mother. We can tell that Eddie internally stores a lot of regret, hatred and anger about his life. Those feelings made Eddie became a melancholy and closed person.

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Eddie is not the only character who gets the effects of class roles in the society. Almost all the characters of the novel do. The Blue Man got a miserable life as the result of it. He became a child labor to struggle to get by financially. He then felt inferior especially since he was a stutterer. In an act of desperation, he resorted to a primitive medicinal measure – drinking silver nitrate. As this, later considered to be poison, did not cure him of his ailments, he assumed he was not taking a high enough dosage. As he continued to ingest more and more silver nitrate, his skin began to change colors (which he remedied by taking more silver nitrate), until eventually he was completely blue. He was left jobless after being fired from the sweatshop for scaring other workers. Eventually he found refuge with a group of carnival men, and his life as a “commodity” had begun. After traveling from carnival to carnival, he found permanent employment at Ruby Pier, where he was referred to as the best freak in the entire show. He lived above a sausage shop, playing cards at night with fellow circus performers and even occasionally Eddie’s father, earning his living by sitting in a cage all day, half dressed, as people walked by and stared in shock, awe, and sometimes, disgust.

Ruby, also came from a low class family. She did not have much money growing up. There were many guys who would like to be her husband but her background brought her to be blown away by Emile’s monetary whimsicality. After sufficient courtship, Emile proposed to Ruby and she gleefully accepted. The condition then changed Ruby’s life completely. She felt like a Cinderella whose dream of meeting her dream prince came true.

The class does many roles of almost all the characters in this novel. Each individual has his/her own way to overcome the oppression which he/she got. It shows that this novel reflects those social institutions out of which it emerges and is itself a social institution with a particular ideological function. Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven reflects class struggle and materialism: think how often the quest for wealth traditionally defines characters.

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