Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Marriage as a company

Cathy Zhou's picture

Marriage as a company

When I started reading NW, I ‘m interested in the relationship between Leah and Michel and I think it would be interesting to apply economics in their marriage.

Leah and Michel decided to get married after they had multiple sexes, and their rely for each other is based on sex:“It was hard to get used to the fact that the pleasure her body found in his, and vice versa, should so easily overrule the many other objections she had, or should have had, or thought she should have had.”It seems like a random decision, but the consequence of their marriage is satisfying: They became an accepted couple by the society and their own families. As an immigrant, Michel got a social position wit his marriage with a white woman, and with Michel’s job, Leah is also enabled to release the pressure in her life. Basically they are satisfying each other’s needs socially and sexually. The marriage did improve the productivity of them. When they get married, it’s more than the sex relations they have, they start to share social connections, take care of each other, and inevitably, influence each other. Getting married is like setting up a little company--- each of the family members have different functions, and they came together to maximize their efficiency. And it was efficient at first, the problems followed up with their likely successful business.

Clearly, Michel is playing the CEO role in the family. This is determined not only by economical reasons but also his well-planned characteristic which always drive him to move on. Whereas Leah is a more free will person---she always do things not expected out of her. She seems to be a sensitive city girl who cared more about mental life than material life. This explains the multiple mentions of her longing for the eternity. She wants to stay eighteen, the age when she’s young and beautiful, where she has a naïve sense of the society. As a wife, she might not be a good contributor in her part as an assistant. We can see that from her anti-social with the colored women in Chapter 8,page 35. She only seems to have reactions when she’s able to leave the other women, even her marriage is the center of their topic---- she’s not interested. A good wife the society has being expecting should have the communication competence, to get information from the neighboring talk, to connect with the community. A wife should be putting effort into the inner family business, which Leah did not do well.

But is Michel doing well as a CEO? As a immigrant to UK, it’s not hard to find that Michel has a clear ambition: to settle down. He is a barber, which is a skill that can keep him alive in a foreign country. And he did have many connections through his job---he cuts everyone’s hair in this town. But Michel cannot thoroughly get involved in this community, as mentioned, he’s an immigrant. With his poor English and lack of humor, he cannot make many friends in this different land. So he’s always trying to make a goal for himself: getting married, having a baby. However, he forgot that his coworker, Leah might have a different consideration on his goals. He’s a selfish husband in the family, related to his strong feeling trying to set himself up in the land of UK. The loneliness as a immigrant formed his longing for child, while ignoring his wife’s feeling.

And that’s the major problem of their marriage: he did not take care of the wife’s opinion and made all the decisions on his own. That is his fault as a CEO, he only asked for things he wants without considering other’s thoughts. It’s not a single case. In the case when Shar came to the house, he became infuriated by her deceive for money and complained to the fault-maker Leah, without considering her feeling of being deceived by a stranger and blamed by the family at the same time. And all these immature behaviors made their connections decrease. When it comes to the child topic, the CEO did not give his assistant any reason to believe his decision should be the right one, and therefore confused the unwilling wife. A successful family sample should make their decision with respect to everyone’s will, and therefore modify the different by giving different benefits and get a consensus. If the wife doesn’t want a baby, it’s the husband’s job either to let she see the blessed future with a baby or change his own mind. All the conflicts come from the wrong management skill used by Michel, the one who should be taking full responsibility in his decision.

“If the world was just you and me, says Leah, we’ll be happy all the time.” (p100) If the world is just two of them, attracted by each other, without all the livings to be worried about, it should end up a happy story of two individuals. When they are only in simple relationship of interactions, it could be a win-win story for both of them. But marriage must have the incorporations involved to make output from inside and to outside, they have to be realistic about life, and the conflicts are inevitable.