John Dos Passos’s The Big Money

This paper analyzes the book, The Big Money, by John Dos Passos, especially the main theme of technology.

This paper explains that The Big Money is really the story of the beginning of corporate and individual greed in America. The author points out that Dos Passos not only uses greed as a motivation for his characters, but also shows how it affected some of the top technologists and businesspeople of the time. The paper relates that Dos Passos’s unusual style weaves fiction with current `newsreels` and events of the day, including Henry Ford and William Randolph Hearst.
`Two of the characters in `The Big Money` typify these brash young entrepreneurs, who make wads of money in the stock market, and are the foundation for corporate and personal greed and excess in our country. Charley Anderson is an alcoholic aviation engineer who makes a killing in the stock market. He is quite successful in his business, but miserable in his personal life. `Charley wouldn’t eat anything. Bill ate up both their steaks. Charley kept on drinking whiskey out of a bottle he had under the table and beer for chasers. ‘But tell me . . . your wife, does she let you have it any time you want it?’ (Dos Passos 310). Margo Dowling is a stock speculator and actress. Both become wildly successful in the stock market, and both begin to live life to excess. All of the characters feel better when they have money, and it seems to give them all some kind of false sense of security, even though it can be taken away at any moment, as the crash of the stock market shows. These people may be rich, but they are morally poor, and the technologies of the day all helped build upon this foundation of greed and need that plagued the wealthy of the day. In the end, neither Margo nor Charley are happy because of their money, and their lives degenerate into meaningless loneliness.