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Word Count: 343
The bricks immediately lining the vaults would be all burnt to useless scrolls black as charcoalthe next tier would be a little less withered but hardly fit for service and gradually as you went higher and higher along the successive layers of kiln you came to the midmost ones sound square and perfect bricks bringing the highest prices from these the contents of the kiln gradually deteriorated in the opposite direction upward Chapter 23 pp156This particular quote plays on the class system in society It breaks down the class rankings bit by bit starting with the lowest level The peasants were at the bottom of the barrel and were considered to be dirty people who took up space But the references to words such as burnt and charcoal suggests that Melville was not only talking about peasants but also black people It is obvious that the issue of race is also addressed in this particular quote Blacks who are useless are at the very bottom and the description used to characterize them suggests that they arent even worthy of being put in a class Next would come the peasants hardly useful The midmost ones sound square and perfect characterized the Bourgeois class Those that were entrepreneurs and hard workers who made up most of the important part of society As you climb higher the rich are seen as just as dirty and useless as the poor They have money but do nothing productive with it or with themselvesAnother interpretation could be that the bricks represent war America had to fight in the beginning to gain independence from Britain which would explain why the first set of bricks are burnt from bombing They also lay the foundation for all of the other bricks to climb high The next set a little less withered perhaps represents the aftermath of war and is symbolic of the rebuilding period The middle strongest bricks refer to America flourishing and coming
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