Marquand, John P. The Late George Apley. Boston: Back Bay Books Reprint, 2004.
The title of John P. Marquand’s text the Late George Apley may at first seem like an unprepossessing title for a book. Why should a reader choose read a book when it is already quite obvious what will happen at the end of the novel, namely that the main character will die? Furthermore, the subject is not of a famous person, but a fairly undistinguished man, and the book suggests little narrative excitement or suspense about his death or life. According to the first few pages of the text, George Apley is a member of a well-known fictional Boston society family — at least, in Marquand’s created world. Apley is not a particularly well-known figure, either within the context of the book’s fictional universe, and certainly not in the real world of American history. So why should a non-Bostonian of a different class than Apley’s take an interest in the man’s life?
However, Marquand the author (in contrast to the fictional author of Apley’s memoir) argues that it is not that Apley is an especially fascinating subject, rather it is what Apley represents that is so important, and makes him a worthy biographical subject, namely of a bygone era of American urban life. The book highlights an important part of American history, when America was shifting to a more urbanized, industrialized, and socially fluid nation. Although the ostensible author of the piece boasts of his loyalty to the Apley family and says he is an editor of the lives of many prominent Bostonians, many of the details actually selected by the novelist Marquand about Apley’s seem to be a kind of subtle critique of Apley’s social niche.
John P. Marquand wrote the Late George Apley in 1937. The book is set in Boston, and attempts to portray another age, when people like Apley made up a kind of American urban aristocracy, with its own rigid manners, customs, and mores that seem foreign to readers today. George Apley was born in the 19th century and died “on the water side of Beacon Street” only a short distance away from the place of his birth on December 13, 1933 (3). “I am the sort of man I am because my environment prevented my being anything else,” Apley admitted at the end of his life (3).
Apley, in other words, barely traveled outside of the world into which he was born and is a kind of a hothouse product of his very cultivated environment. He lived in age before mass transit made the world a smaller place, and even more importantly, before social mobility made America a more diverse and integrated community of many different classes and persons of geographic origins. The voice of the narrator speaks of this past age with regret, while Marquand seems to regard this era with humor.
Significantly, to talk about Apley, Apley’s biographer begins by writing about the man’s family, rather than Apley himself. This form the real beginning of the narrative. This shows how slow things are to change in Apley’s world. For example, Apley’s Uncle William refuses to install modern plumbing or buy more than one suit a year and lives in a drafty house he could well afford to heat (10). Uncle William lives like a poor man on a point of principle. Apley’s grandfather leaves beloved stately home and his favorite section of Boston because when he saw a man in shirtsleeves, because he decided that the riff-raff were moving into his section of the city (26).
Looking back upon his own life early on in the book, Apley’s fondest memories are of the Harvard-Yale game, not his wedding (5). He expresses amazement that someone could sell cargo for three times its worth, despite not being a “Harvard Business School” graduate and speaks dismissively when he hears a man succeeds in business, even though the man attended Harvard Law, because anyone could see his “true proclivities” were beneath the profession of the law (18;21). In other words, for the elite members of the old money Apleys, actually striving to make money in business is seen lowering one’s self and corrupting the family name.
Apley seems like a snob, and his main redeeming quality is that he eventually realizes the limits of his environment and his emotional makeup. The book raises the question if it is possible to create an effective text about a character that changes very little and lives in a world which changes very little over the course of the book, although the America outside of Apley’s social sphere does alter considerably, especially in the wake of the Great Depression. However, Apley and his social set remain basically the same, as if he were born ‘The Late George Apley’ and true to the old WASP manifesto and intended on making sure that the only publicity about his life was his birth announcement and his death.
Yet the fact that the book is being written suggests a certain uniqueness, or at least the fact that there is some societal change on the horizon, given that Apley’s son requests that his father’s heritage and life be brought into the public gaze. His son was actually the cause of much eventual consternation to his father during his lifetime, as he married a divorced woman and even worse, moved from Boston to New York City. Also, the frequent humor of the book comes from the apparent distinction the author recognizes exists between Apley’s worldview and the reader.
Marquand is fully aware of the fact that there is a world outside of Boston and Harvard. Even though the fictional, first-person narrator praises Apley, there is a distinctly ironic presentation of the information the narrator uncovers, such as when Apley speaks of the “laudable similarity of ideas,” he found in college, rather than upon anything he actually learned from his fellow students, and the necessity that his son join the same club, the right club, as he did when he went to Harvard (42). Apley is more concerned about his son joining the right club, than about anything his son is learning in school.
The narrative conceit of the book is that the author is telling the stories of George Apley after reading letters that Apley’s father wrote to him while he was growing up, to show him how a proper Bostonian of a higher class should behave, and the letters Apley wrote to his own children to do the same. Apley’s willingness to become public after death stems from his son’s desire to commemorate his father’s life, despite his troubled relationship with the man. But rather than commemorate his father’s existence, the reader is forced to judge Apley and to reflect, with some relief, on how much society has moved forward, and how different the world is, since Apley was born and died.
Over and over again, the reader is struck by the smallness of Apley’s universe. For example, the reader learns that on Apley’s honeymoon in Portsmouth, another New England, although rather “swell” was reproached by Apley for being a long way from Boston and not so “closely knit” (124). In other words, nothing was as good as Boston, nor could be. Of course, back in the days when marriage and courtship was more elaborate than it is in the reader’s day (as the author assures us) Apley married an “eminently suitable match,” a girl of “sense and sensibility” although the marriage seems fairly dispassionate (119;87). This is one reason why he judges his own son’s later romantic adventures so harshly. In Apley’s view, marriage is described as a “responsibility” rather than a pleasure (129).
The WASP distrust of pleasure, fostered by the old uncle who gave away his beloved paintings and lived in an unheated, worn-out house despite his wealth carries through into Apley’s generation. “Is true happiness derived from work rather than from play?” is the heading of one ladies’ discussion meeting quoted in the book, and the answer according to the Apley mindset is obvious (352). When Apley has a son, he affectionately describes the boy as a “wizened old man” and says that Apley now understands his father that he has a son himself, and that is one of the most important aspects of having children (149). He also says the baby “belongs to everyone,” in other words, belongs to the family, as a representative of the next generation that will carry on and on into the future. There is much debate between him and his wife as to who the baby resembles, not in terms of their own faces, but in terms of their ancestors, as continuity is the most important thing to both Bostonians.
True to the austere credo of his family, Apley does not live a life of leisure. Instead, he works as a lawyer, for Apley and Ried, and entirely on “trust work,” rather than upon any potentially contentious legal issues (307). Although he does travel, he is careful to stay at all of the ‘right’ hotels when he does leave Boston or go abroad, and that means the hotels where all of the other elite families from Boston stay, so he can recreate his social world even when he is not in what to him is the nexus of the universe. The point of travel is not to see other cultures or to learn new things, but to keep things as they are, and one only goes on vacation to see one’s friends, and experience a little bit of Boston in Paris, London, or New York City.
As he grows older, Apley does have a sense that his life may not be completely fulfilled, simply living how his ancestors lived. He reads Lady Chatterley’s Lover, a banned book by DH Lawrence, and exhibits enough “breadth of vision” to deem it to be a good book (337). However, he only reads it because he heard members of his club call it an indecent book, although he wants to judge it for himself. Finally, Apley financially helps many of his old friends who are destroyed by the Great Crash of 1929, which wins him the respect of the reader. Sadly, as Apley is dying, he says to his son in a letter that everything he did in his life “has amounted almost to nothing,” and overall in his life he did not have “very good time” because of the tyranny of “tradition,” and “the obligation of convention…made by others…designed to promote stability and inheritance” (344-345).
Although this is a moving statement, at times, when reading the book, it is hard not to wonder why the reader should care about a man who was committed not to changing things, but to keeping things the same. Apley says he was a victim of his environment, a victim of the pleasureless, aristocratic atmosphere where he was brought up. This sounds like a self-serving excuse, although it may also be the product of our own era which sees human life as full of possibilities rather than limitations. Still, the story of Apley’s life and death is a compelling introduction to the turn of the century America, and its customs and cultural assumptions, regardless of whether the reader agrees with Apley that he had no choice but to obey the customs and conventions of his parents and social ‘equals.’
Marquand, John P. The Late George Apley. Boston: Back Bay, 2004.
Get Professional Assignment Help Cheaply
Are you busy and do not have time to handle your assignment? Are you scared that your paper will not make the grade? Do you have responsibilities that may hinder you from turning in your assignment on time? Are you tired and can barely handle your assignment? Are your grades inconsistent?
Whichever your reason is, it is valid! You can get professional academic help from our service at affordable rates. We have a team of professional academic writers who can handle all your assignments.
Why Choose Our Academic Writing Service?
- Plagiarism free papers
- Timely delivery
- Any deadline
- Skilled, Experienced Native English Writers
- Subject-relevant academic writer
- Adherence to paper instructions
- Ability to tackle bulk assignments
- Reasonable prices
- 24/7 Customer Support
- Get superb grades consistently
Online Academic Help With Different Subjects
Students barely have time to read. We got you! Have your literature essay or book review written without having the hassle of reading the book. You can get your literature paper custom-written for you by our literature specialists.
Do you struggle with finance? No need to torture yourself if finance is not your cup of tea. You can order your finance paper from our academic writing service and get 100% original work from competent finance experts.
While psychology may be an interesting subject, you may lack sufficient time to handle your assignments. Don’t despair; by using our academic writing service, you can be assured of perfect grades. Moreover, your grades will be consistent.
Engineering is quite a demanding subject. Students face a lot of pressure and barely have enough time to do what they love to do. Our academic writing service got you covered! Our engineering specialists follow the paper instructions and ensure timely delivery of the paper.
In the nursing course, you may have difficulties with literature reviews, annotated bibliographies, critical essays, and other assignments. Our nursing assignment writers will offer you professional nursing paper help at low prices.
Truth be told, sociology papers can be quite exhausting. Our academic writing service relieves you of fatigue, pressure, and stress. You can relax and have peace of mind as our academic writers handle your sociology assignment.
We take pride in having some of the best business writers in the industry. Our business writers have a lot of experience in the field. They are reliable, and you can be assured of a high-grade paper. They are able to handle business papers of any subject, length, deadline, and difficulty!
We boast of having some of the most experienced statistics experts in the industry. Our statistics experts have diverse skills, expertise, and knowledge to handle any kind of assignment. They have access to all kinds of software to get your assignment done.
Writing a law essay may prove to be an insurmountable obstacle, especially when you need to know the peculiarities of the legislative framework. Take advantage of our top-notch law specialists and get superb grades and 100% satisfaction.
What discipline/subjects do you deal in?
We have highlighted some of the most popular subjects we handle above. Those are just a tip of the iceberg. We deal in all academic disciplines since our writers are as diverse. They have been drawn from across all disciplines, and orders are assigned to those writers believed to be the best in the field. In a nutshell, there is no task we cannot handle; all you need to do is place your order with us. As long as your instructions are clear, just trust we shall deliver irrespective of the discipline.
Are your writers competent enough to handle my paper?
Our essay writers are graduates with bachelor's, masters, Ph.D., and doctorate degrees in various subjects. The minimum requirement to be an essay writer with our essay writing service is to have a college degree. All our academic writers have a minimum of two years of academic writing. We have a stringent recruitment process to ensure that we get only the most competent essay writers in the industry. We also ensure that the writers are handsomely compensated for their value. The majority of our writers are native English speakers. As such, the fluency of language and grammar is impeccable.
What if I don’t like the paper?
There is a very low likelihood that you won’t like the paper.
- When assigning your order, we match the paper’s discipline with the writer’s field/specialization. Since all our writers are graduates, we match the paper’s subject with the field the writer studied. For instance, if it’s a nursing paper, only a nursing graduate and writer will handle it. Furthermore, all our writers have academic writing experience and top-notch research skills.
- We have a quality assurance that reviews the paper before it gets to you. As such, we ensure that you get a paper that meets the required standard and will most definitely make the grade.
In the event that you don’t like your paper:
- The writer will revise the paper up to your pleasing. You have unlimited revisions. You simply need to highlight what specifically you don’t like about the paper, and the writer will make the amendments. The paper will be revised until you are satisfied. Revisions are free of charge
- We will have a different writer write the paper from scratch.
- Last resort, if the above does not work, we will refund your money.
Will the professor find out I didn’t write the paper myself?
Not at all. All papers are written from scratch. There is no way your tutor or instructor will realize that you did not write the paper yourself. In fact, we recommend using our assignment help services for consistent results.
What if the paper is plagiarized?
We check all papers for plagiarism before we submit them. We use powerful plagiarism checking software such as SafeAssign, LopesWrite, and Turnitin. We also upload the plagiarism report so that you can review it. We understand that plagiarism is academic suicide. We would not take the risk of submitting plagiarized work and jeopardize your academic journey. Furthermore, we do not sell or use prewritten papers, and each paper is written from scratch.
When will I get my paper?
You determine when you get the paper by setting the deadline when placing the order. All papers are delivered within the deadline. We are well aware that we operate in a time-sensitive industry. As such, we have laid out strategies to ensure that the client receives the paper on time and they never miss the deadline. We understand that papers that are submitted late have some points deducted. We do not want you to miss any points due to late submission. We work on beating deadlines by huge margins in order to ensure that you have ample time to review the paper before you submit it.
Will anyone find out that I used your services?
We have a privacy and confidentiality policy that guides our work. We NEVER share any customer information with third parties. Noone will ever know that you used our assignment help services. It’s only between you and us. We are bound by our policies to protect the customer’s identity and information. All your information, such as your names, phone number, email, order information, and so on, are protected. We have robust security systems that ensure that your data is protected. Hacking our systems is close to impossible, and it has never happened.
How our Assignment Help Service Works
1. Place an order
You fill all the paper instructions in the order form. Make sure you include all the helpful materials so that our academic writers can deliver the perfect paper. It will also help to eliminate unnecessary revisions.
2. Pay for the order
Proceed to pay for the paper so that it can be assigned to one of our expert academic writers. The paper subject is matched with the writer’s area of specialization.
3. Track the progress
You communicate with the writer and know about the progress of the paper. The client can ask the writer for drafts of the paper. The client can upload extra material and include additional instructions from the lecturer. Receive a paper.
4. Download the paper
The paper is sent to your email and uploaded to your personal account. You also get a plagiarism report attached to your paper.
PLACE THIS ORDER OR A SIMILAR ORDER WITH US TODAY AND GET A PERFECT SCORE!!!