Essay on Parody
The following is a synopsis for a contemporary parody on Hemingway’s A Farewell of Arms. It uses the book’s basic plot to draw a line between the 2008 economic turmoil and the 2009 Swine influenza.
The plot takes place during the mortgage crisis and its consequent economic turmoil. Fred is a junior trader with the slowly collapsing Lehman Brothers. He is utterly unmotivated, works just hard enough not to get fired and hassled by his bosses. As the company continues its course of free fall, Fred’s apathy becomes an advantage; as panic and despair takes over, especially among the men, Fred’s actions remain as usual – slow, gloomy and, ironically – he appears to be much more stable than his colleagues.
Kathy is a recent collage graduate, who keeps being rejected from jobs with the financial industry and works in Lehman’s cafeteria under a subcontractor. She pulls Fred out of his apathy and convinces him to do the only reasonable thing – getting laid off, and fast, as long as retirement settlements are still available.
Unfortunately, the harder the try to mess up, the smaller is the likelihood of achieving their goal. Fred trades against the market, but gains against all odds. When he sabotages a major client’s portfolio, his transactions log is deleted, and a computer technician takes the blame. He tries to disappear from the office during lunch, injures his knee, and finds himself hospitalized and unable to continue his efforts, while Lehman’s ship is sinking.
Kathy’s experience is not any better. After several failed attempts to appear incompetence, she decides to pour laxatives into the soup. Just as lunch begins, she is called to the supervisor’s office and is asked to work at a nearby hospital (another of her company’s customers) for the rest of the week. She goes there reluctantly, and finds Fred lying in one of the departments. Their relationship turns into a love affair, and they understand that there is no way to escape from sinking along with the company.
Back at Lehman Brothers, corporate executives are being accused for the crisis and dismissed one after the other. An atmosphere of suspicion and hostility dominates the building, shareholders send private investigators to sniff around, and the couple is afraid that their past actions may get them in troubles. On Monday, September 15, 2008, they leave New York City heading south. Hearing about Lehman’s Chapter 11 application that morning, they feel relived, as they know that there is nowhere to go back to and that no one will look for them. Now they must find a place where the financial crisis can only be seen in the newspaper.
But no place like that could be found. They eventually cross the border to Mexico, hoping to find a place too poor to be affected by the economic slowdown. They arrive at a Mexican pig farm, where they spend the winter and live happily as never before.
When spring arrives, Kathy begins to feel weak and has high fever. Worried Fred takes Kathy to a local hospital. The doctors, who have never seen such symptoms, call an epidemiologist for help.
A new global crisis has just begun.
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