Gain Richard Powers Essay

Words: 1737
Pages: 7

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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Benjamin, the youngest Clare brother, also acts as a “gift” from Powers, solving the company’s problems time after time through his pursuit of knowledge of nature. It is almost as if Powers shows his approval of the ways in which the Clares operate their business by advancing their company’s gain through a continuous string of “gifts” throughout the story.
While Powers shows his opinions about the development of Clare International through the characters of its managing partners, he also shows his opinions about its detrimental effects on the individual through the death of his characters. Resolve is the first to die of the brothers: “The death certificate indicated natural causes. But he died, in fact of fulfillment” (151). His death is the most painless, representing a few things. He dies before the incorporation and true dehumanization of the company, and therefore he does not experience the worst of the consequences of his quest for gain. Secondly, he is the least conscious out of the brothers of the monster that he is creating. His constant need for improvement blinds him to its potential negative effects. Powers shows that ignorance is bliss in Resolve’s painless death as a satisfied old man. Through this event, Powers also comments on the fact that those at the top of corporations do not feel the consequences of their decisions. They are secure in their profit and freed of the burdens that they impose upon the rest of