Essay about Gain Richard Powers

1759 Words8 Pages
Gain and Loss in the Circle of Life
In Richard Powers’ novel, Gain, he intertwines two fictional stories to analyze the growth of large corporation in America and the deterioration of the individual as a potential result. He tells the story of the rise of a family soap making business, J. Clare and Sons, into a large-scale corporation over a span of 150 years. As a second story line, he incorporates the end of the life of Laura Bodey, a divorced real estate agent with ovarian cancer living in Lacewood, a town centered around the corporation’s headquarters. He makes a unique statement about the increasingly detrimental nature of business as it grows in scale. He never condemns Clare International nor does he overly-victimize any
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Samuel also represents the aspect of capitalism that Weber discusses in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.
During the period of time that Samuel and his wife begin to follow Miller and his movement, Powers most clearly shows Samuel’s Calvinistic mindset. When arguing over the question of whether or not the Clare’s pursuit of profit was moral, Samuel gives the reader their biggest glimpse into his views related to predestination and God’s gifts to his chosen followers: “If they had been committing some wrong, Samuel assured her, they could not have stayed in the business so long. Prosperity only proved how fully they satisfied the wishes of both God and men” (89). Weber believed that through their pursuit of eternal life, the Calvinists created a business model of hard work and moral superiority, all things that Samuel brings to J. Clare and Sons.
In many ways, Powers shows that he values Weber’s theory of Capitalism the most out of all those the class has discussed. In creating the Clares’ story, he acts as “God,” and bestows streaks of good luck onto them for their hard work and risk taking. For instance, when Douglas, Samuel’s son, buys huge amounts of rosin at an opportune time, he is at first chastised, but then rewarded when it ends up being the
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