"Stardust" & "Shrink Rap" By Robert B. Parker

Essay by PindiExpressHigh School, 12th gradeA-, May 2006

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Since Adam and Eve first walked the face of earth, the nature of mankind and the behaviour of man within society have fascinated people. Shrink Rap and Stardust are works that examine human nature's violence as a result of money. Stardust suggests that money leads to trouble whereas Shrink Rap shows that money leads to violence and greed. Both books similarly show the causes of humanity's violent behaviour through their respective theme, characters, and setting.

Stardust and Shrink Rap show how money has lead society to trouble through their themes. In Stardust, "Jill Joyce is the most famous and sexy actress in America," (Parker, pg 48) it is shown that if someone has money and fame does not mean all their problems are solved. This connects an appearance verse reality theme as Jill Joyce is regarded as a very wealthy lady yet she is addicted to drugs, suffers, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and mental breakdowns, which have all ultimately lead to her downfall.

Overall, the appearance verse reality theme suggests looking deeper then what meets the eye. In, Shrink Rap, Parker describes Dr. Melvin's wardrobe before he committed rape, "Dr. Melvin wore a beautiful black suit with a white shirt. His cuff links were black onyx with a small diamond chip in the center." (Parker, pg 175) In this case, Parker is showing that even doctors or dentists who are dressed up in diamonds might still engage in criminal acts. Also, a passion verse reason theme can be connected as doctors are hired to look after us but Dr. Melvin chose his actions for the sake of his own desires. The central message of Parker's books is to show the connection between money and problems, "Mo' money mo' problems," (P. Diddy, 1997) a hit song by P. Diddy shows that the more money we have, the more problems we will run into.

The two books' characters can be compared and contrasted in order to show the reader that greed is part of humans. Parker quotes, in Stardust, "She has no one who's simply looking out for her," (Parker, pg 31) which shows that even though she is the most popular and beautiful actress in all of America her success has lead to problems and obstacles. Her drinking and drug addiction show her passionate and tempting side, which shows a connection between her and the lady temptress character. Meanwhile, Shrink Rap shows struggle of the characters through marriage problems. The protagonist, Sunny Randall mentions, "It came up in Dr. Melvin's office and he suggested that I wanted you to be like my mother, but I don't want to be like my father," (Parker, pg 206) since a mother shows a close bond and deep connection, Randall is suggesting that she needs Richie back in her life to get that bond back. This shows that Randall is more of a good mother like Virgin Mary, known for her nurturing. Even though both books blame money for their problems, the protagonists from each book resemble different archetypical characters.

The settings used in Stardust and Shrink Rap can easily be contrasted even though both help to show the troubles caused by money. Robert B. Parker's novel Shrink Rap illustrates the setting as a rainy, jealousy, and envy atmosphere. This is portrayed through the use of pathetic phallisy, "It was raining. Not a steady rain, so I could leave the wipers on and forget it, but bursts of it lasted for a while and stopped abruptly, and began as suddenly as it had stopped," (Parker, pg 36) by revealing the rain, Parker shows the mood of the protagonist who is depressed about her failed marriage. Furthermore, it shows that the character is under severe depression due to a divorce. Since the rain was coming down hard, it suggests a storm is coming, which foreshadows something dramatic to happen. This proved right as the protagonist is brutally raped in the next chapter. Overall, this hints that marriages lead to violence and breakdown in society as a whole. Meanwhile, in Stardust the atmosphere is cruel and troublesome. The book is mostly placed on a set of a movie shoot in Boston, "The set is downright bloody, cruel, and hostile," (Parker, pg 32) this place is full with anger, which leads to the murder of Babe Loftus. This shows that even famous celebrities gathered at one occasion can turn in rage. The setting can easily be compared to that of a war zone. Since wars evolve around human violence, Parker is connecting this idea by saying actors act in this way after they turn rich. Both books use their respective settings in order to deliver the same message to the reader.

Over the years money has lead to a downfall in society. The more money a man possesses the more problems he will face. This is evident in the two books, which both have high classed protagonists facing obstacles and struggles. Stardust and Shrink Rap use their theme, characters, and setting to deliver this message to the readers. Fame and glory often overshadows the problems that are encountered by high classed people.