So I’m reading French or Foe, finally. I was buying Almost French on amazon and it showed me one of those “buy this and this for this much” links so I kow-towed to the marketing gods and bought them both. Almost French is not here yet but French or Foe arrived a while ago and I’m almost done with it. It is excellent and will be added to my shelf of American/French cultural comparison books.
I love this kind of book but I am wondering if I should take them with a grain of salt. Near the end of French or Foe is a section on French people’s experiences in the U.S. One of the author’s points is that they are usually surprised by the huge emphasis on money as a sign of success. She quotes someone and now I’m quoting her:
- “Ask a young Frenchman why he works, what he wants out of life and he will tell you, ‘To earn enough to live nicely,”‘ said Yvonne D. after two years in San Francisco. “Ask an American and he’ll say, ‘To make a lot of money.'”
Am I an exception here? Is it because my family has made its way into the middle class that I don’t think this way? Because I don’t know anyone who would give that answer. No one from Mac and no one from Texas. I can see how CEOs might say this. But they’re hardly average Americans. Any input from other Americans or foreigners here would be welcomed. In fact that’s kind of my goal in posting this.
Also she mentions that many French ex-patriates are surprised that Americans talk so freely to each other about their salaries. And in my (albeit limited experience) this isn’t really true. In fact I remember talking in a women’s studies class in college about how if we DID talk more about salaries, maybe the glass ceiling would be less invisible and easier to overcome.
So given my reaction to the statements about Americans I’m wondering if I should give less credit to the statements about the French. Which isn’t to say that I don’t still love the book.