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The Unconscious Struggle for Human Existence According to philosopher Karl Marx humans are slaves to historical necessity and their thought and thinking are rigidly determined by the mode of production Beer xxii This view of historical materialism asserts that the culture political and government systems of a given people derive from the material conditions of their existence Thus life is not determined by consciousness but consciousness by lifeReader 155 In the short story The Boarding House James Joyce uses Mrs Mooney to illustrate how the blind forces of economic materialism determine our existence and causally result in our living by a false consciousness The prevailing economic condition in Dublin Ireland determines Mrs Mooneys disposition in running her boarding house Because of the destructive potato famine a good portion of the citys men have fled in search of work elsewhere leaving behind a surplus of women desperately searching for companions Due to the lack of men Mrs Mooney is under more pressure to get her young daughter Polly married and eliminate the possibility of her ending up an old maid Reflecting the present economic ideology Mrs Mooney understands that her ultimate goal is to get Polly off of her hands and to see that she is provided with some financial stability Marxian language justifies Mrs Mooneys behavior because Ideas are simply the ideological reflexes and echoes of ones material life-process Ideology 14 She first sends Polly to be a typist in a corn-factors office in hopes that the well-off boss will grow fond of her and possibly wed her When this option fails she sets Polly her bait to do work at the boarding house giving her the run of the men Joyce 72 Mrs Mooneys position as owner of the house is an asset in her quest for Pollys husband in that it puts Polly in the path of a plethora of well-to-do men Joyce illustrates the control of human materialism by illustrating
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