Discussion Guide #1: Death By Work
On Several occasions in “The Company Man”, Ellen Goodman highlights vivid characteristics of Phil that can be perceived of many professionals today. One characteristic is workaholic, paragraph 1, for example, she says “He worked himself to death”, and this shows how Phil’s priority was his job and only his job that his job sent him to the grave. Another reference she makes is on paragraph 15 “so he finally worked himself to death, at precisely 3:00 A.M., Sunday morning, no one was really surprised”. The reference shows how everyone around Phil’s life knew his job was the most important thing to him that they suspected it was going to end up killing him. It’s disturbing to know how many professionals in the work place right now are going through it, overworking so much they don’t have a chance to rest, until the only chance to rest is when they are dead.
Goodman also characterizes Phil’s physical form as overweight. On paragraph 4, for example, she says “He was of course overweight, by 20 or 25 pounds” and on paragraph 14 “You could have picked him out in a minute from a line up”. Each of these examples shows how Phil’s job brought him harm to his physical health that probably for him it didn’t seem like a big deal, but the ones around him saw the harm. It’s amazing that Phil’s life is no different from working people today which their job is overtaking their life and people have started to let themselves go, which for them it doesn’t seem like a big deal because it does not affect them right there but more in the long run.
Phil is just a fictional character–but there’s a ‘Phil’ around the world right now.