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The Company Man

Essay Topic: ,

Ellen Goodman’s attitude toward Phil in her column, The Company Man, comes off as a bit mocking. The use of repetition allows her to clarify her tone toward Phil even further. She conveys this attitude specifically when she uses quotations and explanations of his family members.

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Goodman’s constant repetition of the phrase, “He worked himself to death, finally and precisely at 3am Sunday morning,” implies her sarcastic attitude which is apparent throughout the piece. What she is trying to say is that all of the hard work he did was for nothing because he ended up dying and was totally replaceable. She clarifies her sarcastic tone in line 77 where she not only repeats he quote, “He worked himself to death at precisely 3am,” but adds “no one was really surprised.” This is saying how everybody had an idea and definitely knew that he was literally working himself to death. The worst part was that in the end it was all for nothing.

Phil’s “survivors” consisted of his wife and three children. The eldest of his children asked the neighbors about his father and what he was like. The author uses this to imply how Phil was never there for his children because his father was always working. Another example of how Goodman exemplifies this is when she writes, “…but whenever she was alone with her father, in a car driving somewhere, they had nothing to say to each other. This shows how since he was never there, they didn’t really have much to bond over or talk about.

Ellen Goodman mocks Phil by using dialogues of his family members and also by the use of repetition to express her attitude and tone. Her overall argument is that you should enjoy your family instead of working, literally, to death, for you never know when it might be too late. In Phil’s case, he died without achieving his desired results, which were to finally become president of his company. Goodman finally ends her column with the dialogue of the company’s president, asking the workers, “Who’s been working the hardest?” a perfectly ironic closing, showing readers that Phil essentially died to make some other workaholics dreams come true.