The Diamond as Big as the Ritz
Freedom and Confinement Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
A function that in Hades would be considered elaborate would doubtless be hailed by a Chicago beef-princess as "perhaps a little tacky." (1.3)
Notice that John is set up from the beginning as somewhat of an outsider to the world of opulent wealth occupied by the boys at St. Midas' prep. His family may be affluent, but they are not on the same scale and not with the same social class as the urban families.
So the old man and the young shook hands and John walked away with tears streaming from his eyes. Ten minutes later he had passed outside the city limits, and he stopped to glance back for the last time. Over the gates the old-fashioned Victorian motto seemed strangely attractive to him. His father had tried time and time again to have it changed to something with a little more push and verve about it, such as "Hades—Your Opportunity," or else a plain "Welcome" sign set over a hearty handshake pricked out in electric lights. The old motto was a little depressing, Mr. Unger had thought—but now.... (1.8)
This is a veiled reference to the inscription that hangs over the gates of Hell in Dante's Inferno: "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here." It's ironic that John so easily leaves Hades (we would expect Hell to be a prison) and that so many are imprisoned at the Washingtons' estate (which quickly takes on the role of the Garden of Eden).
If the car was any indication of what John would see, he was prepared to be astonished indeed. The simple piety prevalent in Hades has the earnest worship of and respect for riches as the first article of its creed—had John felt otherwise than radiantly humble before them, his parents would have turned away in horror at the blasphemy. (2.12)
This is a reminder that John is the product of his upbringing – as are Percy, Kismine, and Jasmine. This is a sticky point when we rush to judge them for their obsession with wealth. Perhaps we shouldn't be too harsh with these young Washingtons. It has, after all, been ingrained in them since birth. They are prisoners of the ideology of their culture.