This compelling satire details irresistible characteristics of social status in a small Midwestern town. Mr. and Mrs. Adams and their two children are members of the lower middle-class. Their daughter, Alice, wrestles with this economic classification and attempts to make the society folk of the town appreciate her. Because Alice has no social influence nor wealth and her presence is held in disregard by prospective suitors, Mrs. Adams tries to improve the situation by persuading her husband to leave a job he's held all his life and to establish a new career. After much apprehension and in possession of a glue formula stolen from his previous employer, he resigns his mediocre but satisfying employment which puts him in a predicament that leads to his professional downfall. Tarkington's understanding of class rivalries, social condescension, and financial avarice is evident in this tale where his main point indicates that in every joyless moment hope, though unexpected, is attainable. He illustrates how the Adams' laborious efforts are ultimately unsuccessful. Any intrusion by Alice and her mother on the upper class is unlikely and Tarkington's depiction of such is secretly amusing.
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