Slouching Towards Bethlehem

The City of Dichotomy in Goodbye to All That 11th Grade

New York City is an iconic hub of activity and acts as one of the most distinctive cities in the United States. Many people, mostly young, move to the metropolis each year seeking fame and fortune, and in the early sixties, Joan Didion adopted the role of one of these travelers. Throughout her personal essay “Goodbye to All That,” she constructs a dichotomy between her reality and her youthful tunnel vision by contrasting her affluent upbringing and what is now her lower-middle-class status upon living alone in such a demanding environment; she evaluates her family’s wealth and her suddenly fallen comfort level, and she then brings the difference into comparison by acknowledging her relentless and possibly naive belief that she undoubtedly will attain success in the big city.

Didon lays the foundation of this contrast by first establishing that her bleak current living situation does not correlate with her prosperous family history. For example, she recalls moments from her childhood that caused her awareness of her family’s affluence. She describes herself as “...a child who has always had an uncle on Wall Street and who has spent several hundred Saturdays first at F. A. O. Schwarz and being fitted for shoes at Best’s,” (231)....

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 1364 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 10048 literature essays, 2549 sample college application essays, 479 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in