When we think of the word ‘homeless’ we may think of angry people who could never be happy with their living situations. Have we ever stopped to think that it is possible for them to be happy too? In Stuart McLean’s “Emil”, Morley realizes that privilege shouldn’t be the yardstick in which social hierarchy is measured. She is brought to understand that life is not just materialistic things such as how much money we have in our banks, but how fulfilling our life is too us. When Morley finds that it is Emil who has been stealing their neighbourhood plants, she is confused, because she knows that he only takes what he needs. She thought of the time when she gave Emil five dollars, but unlike the reaction she was expecting he said, “That’s too much” and gave her two dollars in change (111). However, instead of getting angry with him, she simply said, “Is that for your garden, Emil?” attempting to form a bond between them (115).  When Emil won the lottery, he could have taken it and changed his life to fit the materialistic standards of society, but he chose not to. He gave away 4500 dollars, misplaced 2500, and had 3000 left at the end of the day (118). “He didn’t just hand the money to anyone who walked by. He gave it to his regulars – people who gave him money. Or stopped to talk to him” (118). This shows that even without all these items that are thought to be needed in order to be happy, Emil wouldn’t ‘trade in’ his life for a new one. When Morley came to terms with the idea that you don’t need these ‘upperclass’ items to be happy she was able to empathize with Emil on a more personal level than she had originally planned to. Privilege can be deceiving, we cannot and should not assume people with money are happy. This heartwarming story goes to show that happiness should be our ultimate goal in life.

 

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