Study Guide

Where'd You Go, Bernadette Society and Class

By Maria Semple

Society and Class

In Where'd You Go, Bernadette, the city of Seattle is a handy lens we can use to understand American society at large. We see corporations like Microsoft, who use their power for both good and ill. We watch cliquey social groups adopt an us-vs-them attitude. We see more five-way intersections than we know what to do with. By parodying these often-humorous aspects of Seattle, author Maria Semple ends up satirizing the rest of American society as well.

Questions About Society and Class

  1. Does the book validate Bernadette's criticisms of Seattle? Explain your answer.Ā 
  2. What does the book's depiction of Microsoft say about its view of large corporations?
  3. What are the possible societal implications of a technology like Samantha 2? List several, both positive and negative.
  4. How is wealth depicted in the novel? How do the various characters' relationships with wealth differ?

Chew on This

Through its depiction of Microsoft, the novel critiques the inherently exploitative structure of modern corporations.

Though it critiques some aspects of corporations, the novel shows their positive aspects through the beneficial implications of their innovations, like Samantha 2.

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