Minggu, 06 Juni 2010

SOCIAL CLASS DIFFERENTIATION AND DISCRIMINATION IN WALTER LORD’S A NIGHT TO REMEMBER

SOCIAL CLASS

DIFFERENTIATION AND DISCRIMINATION

IN WALTER LORD’S A NIGHT TO REMEMBER

A. Introduction

Hornby (1995: 792) defines novel as an invented story in prose, long enough to fill a complete book. Walter Lord’s A Night to Remember is one of great novel which tell about the sinking of RMS Titanic. Titanic is a glamour ship which is it maiden voyage is from Southampton to New York. Titanic passengers come from different social background. Because of that titanic compartment is divided into three classes depend on the price. There are first class, second class and third class.

The facilities and service of each class is different. First class passengers get the best facilities and best services. The differentiation and discrimination social class in Titanic appear especially when Titanic in trouble and sink. Walter Lord describe the discrimination and differentiation those social class in A Night to Remember.

Discussing about social class often relates in Karl Marx theory. Marx in Bressler (212) states that a society progresses from feudal system as its economic mode of production to a more market based economy, the actual process for producing, distributing and consuming goods becomes more complex. Accordingly, people function within economic system becomes differentiated. And it is the differentiation that inevitably divides people into different social class.

A social class defines as a system for classifying the population according to social status. The most basic class distinction is between the powerful and the powerless. Social classes with a great deal of power are usually viewed as elites, at least within their own societies. Because the social class differences and discrimination appears in Walter Lord’s A Night to Remember, the writer uses Marxism approach to analyze Walter Lord’s A Night to Remember.

B. Discussion

1. Social Class and Marxism

A social class defines as a system for classifying the population according to social status. In feudal societies, Marx defines feudal societies into lord and serf. While in ancient societies, there are master and slaves. Marx argues that the main classes in capitalism are the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. However, other classes such as landlords, petty bourgeoisie, peasants, and lumpenproletariat also exist, but are not primary in terms of the dynamics of capitalism.

These classes can easily be defined as those who gain wealth (bourgeoisie) from the working class (proletariat). While the bourgeoisie class continues to gain wealth and power, the proletariat falls in a downward spiral of social and economic crisis. The bourgeoisie or capitalists are the owners of capital, purchasing and exploiting labor power, using the surplus value from employment of this labor power to accumulate or expand their capital. The proletariat are owners of labor power (the ability to work), and mere owners of labor power, with no other resources than the ability to work with their hands, bodies, and minds. Since these workers have no property, in order to survive and obtain an income for themselves and their families, they must find employment work for an employer. This means working for a capitalist-employer in an exploitative social relationship.

Bourgeoisie and the proletariat have their own characteristics. They are different in the way they dress, life style, occupation, education, and ever the properties that they have. High social class usually good in grooming and dressing, beside that the language that they use is different from low class. High social class is usually treated better than middle or lower class in society. High social class usually gets better facilities than middle or lower social class.

2. Walter Lord’s A Night to Remember

A Night to Remember is a 1955 non-fiction book by Walter Lord about the sinking of the ocean liner R.M.S. Titanic in 1912. A Night to Remember is a great documentary drama story of the new White Star Liner, the RMS Titanic; which everybody thought unsinkable. The R.M.S Titanic’s maiden voyage is from Southampton to New York. Everything seems to be going smoothly on the floating city until another ship, the Californian, reports ice. The message is received by the Titanic but it is disregarded. Then the Californian comes across more field ice and decides to stop and wait until morning rather than maneuver around the ice in the dark.

No more than forty minutes go by before the Titanic fatefully collides with the iceberg. As the Titanic settles more and more into the black Atlantic, it becomes mass chaos aboard the ship. About four hours after the ship collided with the iceberg the Carpathia arrives at the wreckage site and saves as many people as it can, ironically with the Californian not out of viewing distance throughout the whole ordeal. It is not certain how many people were lost; it is estimated at 1522.

3. Social Class Differentiation and Discrimination in A Night to Remember

In Walter Lord’s A Night to Remember, the class social differences appear and the discrimination of it is clear enough. It can be seen from the different facilities in every class. R.M.S Titanic is divided into three classes, first class, second class and the lowest class in the third class.

The differentiation among classes is can be seen from the differentiation of facilities given in R.M.S Titanic and the lifestyle shown by the first, second and third class passengers. The dividing of the class becomes the reason of the discrimination of social class. The discrimination also appears in the way the crews serve the passengers depend on the class. The most passengers of the first class are the important person and the bourgeoisie person. While the second and the third class passengers are the poor people or the proletariat. Money and authority can be used to discriminate the others. The social class differentiation in R.M.S Titanic can be shown in two ways, the facilities given and the life style. Those differences result the discrimination of the poor or the third class passengers.

a. Facilities

First, social class differentiation in Titanic appears on facilities for the first class passengers. First class passengers get glamour, elegant, complete and best facilities among the second and third class passengers. It is because the cost of the first class is the most expensive. It can be seen from page 3 of Walter Lord’s A Night to Remember:

First class passengers lavished in the great ship's luxurious surroundings. Her exquisite Grand Staircase, A La Carte Restaurant, Palm Court, Cafe Parisian, Smoking Room, Library, elegantly decorated Staterooms, elevators, state-of-the-art Gymnasium, Turkish bath and heated Swimming Pool were just a few luxuries Titanic had to offer her passengers. Some First Class passengers could be found in the lounge smoking cigars and drinking brandy, playing bridge and other card games (page 3).

Other description of first class facilities are can be seen from page 49:

It was right next to the Turkish Bath, a gloriously garish set of rooms that formed a sort of bridge between the Victorian and Rudolph Valentino eras of interior decoration. The mosaic floor, the blue green tiled walls, the gilded beams in the dull res ceiling, the stanchions encased in carved teak-all were still perfectly dry (page 49).

A luxurious restaurant and a gorgeous bath are fascinating the first class passengers. The elegant decoration and interior are reflect the high class taste perfectly. Every detail and stuff in the first class room satisfies enough the first class passengers. So they can enjoy the trip although in a ship. It is rather different from the second class facilities. The second class passenger’s facilities are not as good and glamour as the first class passengers facilities. The descriptions of it can be seen on page 10:

Many Second Class passengers enjoyed second class Library, Smoking Room and Dining Room. Even there is an elevator for the Second Class passengers. Such a thing was never heard of on another ship (page 10).

Second class facilities seem glamour good enough to be enjoyed, but there is no Turkish Bath for the second class passengers. There is no swimming pool and glamour interior for the second class passengers. But the second class facilities are better than the third class facilities.

The third class facilities are the most common facilities because the third class is the cheapest class. It can be seen from page 16 of Walter Lord’s A Night to Remember:

Even Third Class, with its Smoking Room, General Rooms and Dining Saloons, rivaled Second Class on much another ship (page 16).

There is no elevator in third class, no swimming pool, no large restaurant even less Turkish Bath. The third class facilities and interior are the most ordinary in the R.M.S Titanic.

From the description above, it is clear enough that the social class differentiation appears on the facilities that the ship offers to the passenger. More expensive passenger rents the class, more luxurious the facilities that they get. The rich will get good facilities and the poor will get ordinary facilities.

b. Dress, Clothing and Life Style

People can identify which is the have and which is the have not, which is the rich and which is the poor, which is bourgeoisie and which is proletariat from seeing the other people dress and people’s life style. The way the first, second and third class passengers in Titanic also have differentiation in the way they dress, grooming and life style.

The first proof is represented by Mrs. Lucien Smith Mr. Smith. They are the first class passenger. The way Mrs. Smith dress can be seen when Mrs. Smith wants to meet her husband Mr. Smith. It can be seen from page 35:

Slowly and with great care she dressed for whatever the night might bring – a heavy woollen dress, high shoes, two coats and a warm knitted hood (page 35).

Only a rich person can buy a heavy woollen dress, because it is very expensive. Mr. Smith occupation is captain of Titanic. The way Ismay dress also reflects the way first class passengers dress. The other description of the way the first class passengers dress is shown by Ismay. It can be seen from page 77:

Then Ismay walked down to the restaurant, immaculate in his dinner jacket, very much a first class passenger (page 77).

The way rich people dress depend on the event and situation that will they attend to. Dinner is a special moment for rich people and they usually wear special cloths. The way Ismay cloth represents the way rich people cloth. Those are very different from the way the second class passengers dress. It can be seen from the way a second class passenger dress, Miss Elizabeth Nye at a night in RMS Titanic:

Second class passenger Miss Elizabeth Nye wore a simple skirt, coat and slipper (page 38).

Miss Elizabeth Nye uses ordinary dress and it is very different from the way Mrs. Smith dress. So it is clear enough that the way people dress and grooming can chow the social background of a person. It is also shown is Walter Lord’s A Night to Remember.

The social background of a person is also can be seen from the life style of a person. A rich man or woman usually uses big ship to travel and they never use an open boat. It is different from a poor man or women. Uses and in an open boat is not something worried for poor person. They usually use open boat because it is cheaper than use a ship. This bourgeoisie life style is can be seen from the dialogue of a first class passengers and a ship crew. It can be seen from page 62:

A large fat woman stood crying near no. 13: “don’t put me in the boat. I don’t want to go into the boat! I have never been in an open boat in my life!”

Steward Ray brushed aside her protest-“You’ve got to go, and you may as well keep quiet” (page 62).

Travelling, take a long vacation by ship, shopping, gossiping while drinking wine and brandy, talking about expensive sport, talking about politic etc are the example of Bourgeoisie life style. While proletariat doesn’t have money and time to take vacation or even go for travelling. That is the small differences between bourgeoisie and proletariat.

Bourgeoisie is usual with their glamour lifestyle and the proletariat is usual with their ordinary lifestyle. Vacation, glamour ship, good dress, drinking are the example of the Bourgeoisie life style. The differentiation in facilities, dress and lifestyle above represent the class social differentiation in R.M.S Titanic.

c. The Social Class Discrimination

The social class discrimination start appears when the ship start to hit the iceberg and everybody panic. The crews ask the passengers to stay in their own deck, whereas the situation was getting worse and worse because of the iceberg. Why don’t all passengers gather in a place, in the centre of the ship for example. In such a panic situation like that, class classification still exists. The description is can be seen from page 39 in a panic situation because the ship hit the iceberg.

In the bitter night the whole crowd milled, each class automatically keeping to its own decks, first class in the centre of the ship, second a little aft, third at the very stern or in the well deck near the bow (page 39).

Although in a urgent and panic situation like that social class differentiation still exist and it was going so hard for the second and third class passengers to get out from the ship when the ship almost sink. That’s very unfair and because of that the most victim of the sinking of Titanic comes from the third class.

The clear discrimination exists for the third class passengers. When the water came into the ship, the crews of the ship guide and give the instruction for the first and second class passengers. But for the third class passengers, there is no guidance or instruction for them. So they just wait and wait, even they don’t know that the situation was worse that their imagination. It can be seen from the third class situation description in deck E on page 66:

There they stood waiting, nobody to guide or help them (page 66).

The third class passengers have to take a big risk of their life in facing such a dangerous situation. The class social discrimination becomes extreme when the situation in RMS Titanic was getting worse and worse. Everybody panic and there are chaos in the RMS Titanic. Everybody wants to get out from the ship and take into the boat but again and again the third class passengers have to wait for the first and second class passengers. So the third class passengers did some demonstration to get out from the ship and to be in boat to save their life. But, bad treatment had to be faced the third class passengers. The crews begin to shoot the third class passengers who don’t want to wait for their turn. It can be seen from a third class passenger’s scream in page 75:

“Oh, Mr. Man, don’t shoot, please don’t shoot the poor man!” (Page 75).

Everybody wants to life longer even for poor people. Everybody wants to be protected and saved ever poor people, but what happen in Titanic, it is very inhuman. Everybody has the same right, everybody deserves to get the same and good treatment and everybody deserve to be honoured. But not in R.M.S Titanic, the crews only give honour to the rich or to the first and second class passengers. The crews give major priority for the first class and then the second class; the third class passengers are always ignored.

The third class discrimination also occurs for the children. All of the children in the first and second class are saved, but only almost a half of the third class children are saved. The description can be found in page 105:

All 29 first and second class children were saved, but only 23 of 76 steerage children (page 105).

Not only adult, children in the third class are discriminated. They still know nothing but the crews treat them unfair. Why 0nly 23 children from the third class are saved, why the crews do not save them all just like children from the first and second class. 23 children are only the small part from the total of the children in the third class. It is totally children right castrated.

Actually the class social discrimination is not only for the third class passengers, but it also happens for the second class passengers. The crews always take major priority for the first class passengers. The second class passengers’ discrimination happens when the second class passengers try to set out from the ship and blend with the first class passengers. They try to use the first class passengers’ to save their life. But the crew saw them and shout them just shown in page 105:

It was better, but not perfect, in the second class. Lawrence Beesley remembered and officer stopping two ladies as they started through the gate to first class. “May we pass to the boats?” they asked. “No, madam; your boats are down on your own deck” (page 105).

The statement above shows that the social class differentiation still happens even in urgent situation. Even all people want to life and want to set free from the incidents. The discrimination still appears even the ship was almost sinking. The first and the second class get major priority for the deck and the boat. This fact is can be seen in statement page 107. This statement describes the third class assumption by seeing the fact in the ship. It is stated by Olaus Abelseth in page 107:

Olaus Abelseth, at least, regarded access to the Boat Deck as a privilege that went with first and second class passengers ... even when the ship was sinking (page 107).

From the fact above, it can be seen that the third class passengers can only give up accepting the faith as poor. Usually the poor are always ignored and the rich are always cared. It also happens to the third class passengers. Nobody care about them, no body give attention to them and nobody needs their statement. The statement like this is can be found in page 106. This statement appears when the investigation of the Titanic sinking is stated:

Nor did Congress care what happened to Third class (page 106).

The third class passengers are also human; they have the same right as the first and the second class. They deserve to be cared, they deserve to be treated well, and they deserve to be treated like another human. But the vice versa happens to them.

To save the passengers, the crews still organize based on the class of the ship. Each class has to be in their own class and blending of class if forbidden. The second class passengers are forbidden on the first class deck, and the third class passengers are also forbidden to be in the second class deck. It shown by the crews shout stated on page 107:

“Remember! Women and children go first; then the first cabin, then the others!” (Page 107).

From the proves above, it is clear enough that class social discrimination appears and happens in RMS Titanic like Walter Lord writes in A Night to Remember. The crews save the first class passengers, and then the second class passengers and the third class passengers is the last who are saved. The poor people have to pay expensive for their life. The third class passengers have to do a big struggle for their life. The social class discrimination in RMS Titanic discriminates them enough. Because of those discriminations, the most victims that are found of the sinking R.M.S Titanic are from the third class passengers. It can be seen from the proofs about Titanic that is written by Walter Lord in A Night to Remember on page 176:

For several hours after the sinking, debris continues to drift down and settle around the wreck. Of the 2,235 occupants, 1,522 met their death in those dark waters including most of the men, most of the third class, most of the crew, and the entire band. Only 713 people were rescued (page 176).

From the proof above, the discrimination for the third class passengers make them meet their death and insecure. Most of the victims of the sinking of R.M.S Titanic are from the third class passengers. It shows that social class discrimination is unfair and inhumane. Everybody is created equal with the same right and the same opportunity. Just because they are poor people or from proletariat, the right and the opportunity are seized. Money, political position and authority are badly influencing in that era.

C. Conclusion

Walter Lord’s A Night to Remember is a great novel. It tells about the sinking of a great and glamour ship Titanic. It happens in 1955. Titanic’s compartment is divided into three classes. The most expensive is the first class. The differentiation of the cost of renting the class makes differentiation in facilities and also birth social class discrimination.

The social class differentiation and discrimination is just like Marx theory about social class and Marxism. There are two classes in capitalist society, Bourgeoisie and proletariat or the rich and the poor. Often the proletariat or the poor is discriminated. This phenomenon appears in R.M.S titanic.

The class social differentiation in R.M.S Titanic is can be seen from the differentiation facilities for each class given by the ship. The first class passengers get the best and the most glamour facilities. The other differentiation is can be seen from the way the first class passenger dress and clothing. They wear expensive and glamour dress beside have glamour life style. The discrimination for the third and second class passengers become clearer when the situation was getting worse and chaos because of the ship hit the iceberg. The result of that discrimination is the most victims of the sinking of R.M.S Titanic come from the third class passengers. As human, that discrimination is very unfair.

REFERENCES

Bottomore, Tom, ed. 1983. A Dictionary of Marxist Thought. Cambridge: Harvard University Press

Bressler, Charles. E. ____ . Literary Criticism An Introduction to Theory and Practice. Second Edition. New Jersey: Practice Hall

Hornby, AS. 1995. Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. New York: Oxford University Press

Lord, walter. 1997. A Night to Remember. New York: Bantam Book

Electronically Sources:

Marx's Theory of Social Class and Class Structure Marx on social class. Accessed on 26th of July 2009. http://uregina.ca/~gingrich/s28f99.htm

Theories of Social Class: Marx, Weber and Bourdieu. Accessed on 26th of July 2009. http://www.palioijayabiz.com/?p=37

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