Essay Sample: The Theme of Hostility in The Story "The Selfish Generation"

Published: 2022-11-10
Essay Sample: The Theme of Hostility in The Story "The Selfish Generation"
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Literature
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 849 words
8 min read

The primary thesis depicted in the story "The Selfish Generation" is meanness and the underlying themes include egocentrism, rudeness in social settings, and anti-social behaviors like bullying (Spatt, 2016). Jenni Russel begins the story by narrating an incident that occurred in a book store where the shop attendant was extremely rude to a lady who was inquiring about the availability of a certain book. Another instance of rudeness occurred to the author's friend had made an appointment to discuss several issues, but the advisor never showed up on the two occasions the former had requested. Moreover, there was no apology or explanation given whatsoever regarding why the advisor could not turn up for the two meetings. The friend gave up on the third appointment since he did not was to be humiliated again. In this essay, the theme of hostility will be comprehensively discussed while referring to the story "The Selfish Generation" by Jenni Russel.

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Russel concisely explains that people are gradually losing their humanity and after that acquiring other undesirable social tendencies (Spatt, 2016). One of the most emphasized vices in the story is the lack of politeness when people are in social settings. The current generation is more concerned about their image while in public, and they end up being aggressive and acting undesirably. As a result, most of the people tend to take offenses where it was not intended and end up hurting others when it is unnecessary.

The instances of hostility that have been explained in the story by Russel have been experienced by everyone especially when at a social setting. For example, it is common to find some bosses in the workplace who struggle to assert their superiority to the subordinates (Popper, 2012). Most of these leaders often crave for attention and respect, and when inflicted by the fear that they may not be respected, they create frightening situations to create fear among those who work under them. Such managers often care only about their status rather than the welfare and well-being of their juniors. In the same way, employees who feel like they deserve better jobs than what they are currently doing express their feeling and emotions by performing poorly and recklessly in their duties.

As explained by Russel, such behaviors like hostility and rudeness towards others happen because human beings are naturally human animals. People often listen and react to the opinions of others to have some sense of security. As the Earl of Chesterfield told his son, people are capable of forgiving all quarrels except the vice of disregard or disrespect (Spatt, 2016). As the scientific research indicated by the author in the story revealed, the acts of social hostility cause similar pain like that of physical injury (Popper, 2012). Therefore, as people go around being selfish, hostile, and rude to other human beings, the pain caused may be unbearable.

The most vulnerable people to hurt are those that have already experienced some social injustices and who have low self-esteem since other members of the society already undermine their self-worth. Some of these vulnerable populations include bullied workers, immigrants, and people in menial jobs (Spatt, 2016). Those with good jobs and a lot of money are in most cases hostile to those who are not as privileged as those in menial jobs. When people become prosperous, they can escape from the consequences. For instance, wealthy people can pay others to be nice to them.

Different forms of ruthlessness can be observed in our societies on a daily basis. For example, most people lack the virtue of good manners. In such cases, some people cancel their attendance at meetings at the last-minute claiming that something more important has emerged. Others ignore small favors requested to them by their neighbors with the excuse that they have to attend to the guests first since the latter are more important. Regarding the issue explained above, there is an old myth that one should have social responsibilities towards guests, but the idea is nowadays used by individuals to maximize their satisfaction (Popper, 2012). Almost every person is following the route of transforming social encounters into self-marketing opportunities. The virtue of mutual respect is gradually diminishing, and the cost is significant. For instance, there is the destruction of confidence, self-esteem, and creativity altogether (Popper, 2012). As Russel explains, the industries around us do nothing about such situations to reverse the trend of hostility and selfishness in the society.

In conclusion, although every person wants to be valued and appreciated, it is crucial to have tolerance and generosity towards others in society since those are the little things that make our lives bearable. There is no need for inflicting small social injuries to one another since emotional pain is as intense as physical pain. People need to establish various ways of showing respect and empathy towards others since such values foster a connection among them. The burden of encouraging such values should be taken up by learning institutions and companies but should also be personal responsibility.


Popper, K. (2012). The open society and its enemies. Routledge.

Spatt, B. (2016). Writing from Sources. Macmillan Higher Education. (pp. 210-213)

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