Study Guide

The Future of Us Society and Class

By Asher, Jay and Mackler, Carolyn

Society and Class

For the past two months I've been going out with Graham Wilde. We're in band together. He plays drums and I play saxophone. He's sexy, with shoulder-length blond hair, but his clinginess at prom was annoying. I'll definitely end it with him soon. Or maybe I'll just let things dissolve over the summer. (1.41)

Emma is settling for someone who's in her own social class at school. She's not crazy about Graham, but they're both in band and he's got that "sexy" musician thing going for him.

Sydney Mills and I are in completely different orbits. She's a Mercury, with the full hotness of the sun beating down on her. I'm a Pluto. Sure, my friends appreciate me, but I'm barely holding on to the far reaches of the galaxy. (10.4)

Society and class case-in-point: Josh isn't an outcast, but Sydney is queen of Lake Forest, hanging out with the inner circle, the most popular of the popular. Josh cannot imagine that this changes enough for them to get married in the future. But you know what? The social boundaries of high school mean nothing in the long run.

A few more pushups and sit-ups every night and maybe I can become that guy even faster. I turn sideways and flex into the mirror, but from this angle there's no denying I'm still a skinny kid with two years of high school left to go. (16.8)

In order to win the heart of Sydney Mills, Josh thinks that he's going to need to morph into someone that looks like he belongs with Sydney Mills. Josh looks at his reflection and sees what everyone else sees: a skinny high school kid. This isn't Josh on the inside, but he's seeing himself the way that strangers see him.

"There's this girl," I say.

I hear the TV shutting off. "Is she cute?"

"She's gorgeous. Any guy in school would die to go out with her."

"And she's interested in you?" David asks. "That's my brother!"

"No, she's not interested… yet." I take a breath. "It's hard to explain, but I think she could be interested in me… eventually." (16.18-22)

Josh is trying to explain to his brother that he might have a chance with this girl who is totally out of his league. But while he doesn't even know her yet, he readily assumes that she won't be interested in him because she's popular and he isn't.

Mr. Wild Thing is a senior who plays varsity football. Whenever I pass him in the hall, I get the urge to drop and do fifty push-ups. (20.41)

The Future of Us is full of these types of labels: So-and-so is on such-and-such team or in such-and-such group. This is pretty typical in high school when everyone's trying to make sense of themselves, which often involves trying to make sense of other people, too, in order to use them for comparison. Josh looks at this guy in his Peer Issues class and feels an immediate inferiority complex.

I have a computer in my car?Josh is going to freak out when he hears this. And if Kevin saved a life, maybe he's a doctor. Or a paramedic. Or a fireman! That'd be cool because firemen have great bodies. (30.40)

So many stereotypes… Emma is imagining what type of profession her future husband has. She can plan a certain type of life if she knows what type of category her husband will fit into. She also assumes that every single fireman has a great body, which may be a bit of a generalization—but then again, categories always fail to account for everyone in them.

Emma tilts her head and smirks at me. "Tell me truthfully, did you change your underwear because I made fun of you?"

"No," I say. But the answer is yes. Emma walking in on me was embarrassing enough. But there's no telling when a girl I actually have a chance with might get a glimpse of me in my underwear. I don't want her first thought to be Haven't you heard of boxers? (31.18-19)

Emma hit a nerve because she made Josh feel uncool for wearing the wrong underwear. This puts pressure for him to fit a certain image, be a certain type of guy—you know, he type of guy who wears boxers instead of tighty-whities.

He's wearing a dark blue T-shirt with DUKE written across the chest. Everyone in track knows he was accepted there with a full athletic scholarship. As usual, he looks relaxed with his spikey blond hair, pale blue eyes, and a faint shadow on his jawline. (34.2)

Cody is at the top of his game, which both intimidates Emma while also making him perfect crush material. When Emma describes Cody, notice how she includes the phrase "everyone in track knows." The thing that makes him cool, in other words, is that everyone else agrees to see him as such.

I recognize that house from the night I saw Josh's Facebook page. Someday, he'll live there with Sydney. They'll go boating and have barbeques. His children will grow up rich and privileged and Josh will eventually get sucked into that world, too. (38.45)

One of the reasons Emma struggles with Josh's fabulous future is that she feels that it will create a divide between them. When he marries Sydney, Josh will become a part of that other world—the one with fancy cars and houses by the lake. Emma feels like this will change Josh and make him somebody different.

With her sunglasses on and her hair spilling around her shoulders, Sydney looks content with whatever life tosses her way. It's the exact opposite of how I feel. Something amazing must happen between now and then because, at this moment, we don't feel right for each other. (47.48)

Josh is starting to think outside the box, so rather than believing that he and Sydney won't work out because she's a cool kid, he's starting to see that they're two people who just might not be suited for each other.

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