“Marrying Absurd” is an editorial written by Joan Didion in 1967, for a publication named the Saturday Evening Post. Didion describes precisely how ridiculous the marriage “industry” has turned into in Las Vegas. The reader is lead to perceive the cheapness of the Las Vegas business. Las Vegas has managed to build a travesty of the purity of marriage. This city has managed to obtain something that should be holy and turned it into nothing further than a economic convenience.
Didion begins with this testimonial: “To be married in Las Vegas, Clark County, Nevada, a bride must swear that she is eighteen or has parental permission and a bridegroom that he is twenty-one or has parental permission.” The Joan puts across her worry about the need of rations needed to be married. It can be comparable to going to a fast food restaurant drive-thru, but, instead of leaving with a hotdog and chips, you’re leaving with a new partner. There is no need for a blood test or a waiting period. In reality it takes more evidence and time to become a new associate at a movie store.
Didion ironically goes on to utter that “Someone must put up five dollars for the license.” Not only is Joan letting us recognize the inexpensiveness of the marriage, but her choice of words allow us to feel the impersonal meaning. The words “put up” are an interesting word choice used by the author. Most of the time you hear “put up” placed in sentences like- “I put up X amount of dollars to bail so and so out of jail,” or “I put up X amount of dollars on that football team.” These are risky expenditures, not things that you’d like to purchase. Five dollars isn’t per say a whole lot to risk one way or another.
The Didion is entailing that there is a “cheapness” regarding Las Vegas weddings, not just in a truthful sense but a bodily sense also. A great deal of the Las Vegas wedding business is based on marketing, much like you would experience with a fast food joint. In approaching Las Vegas one billboard reads “Getting Married? Free Licensing Information First Strip Exit.” Buy one burger get one free. Get your coupons. Free marriages. It sounds crazy but the ideas are the same. One wedding chapel advertises “Sincere and Dignified Since 1954.” If the restaurant can lure someone into buying a burger, the customer will probably walk out with some fries and a drink as well. With the same idea, the chapels will marry a couple for free, but will charge the couple for flowers, rings, witnesses, music, and pictures, each for an additional cost.
Underneath usual conditions marriage is normally measured to be a sacred event. Didion guides us to think that on this meticulous day the services performed were not very sacred. “…between 9:00pm and midnight of August 26,1965, an otherwise unremarkable Thursday, which happened to be by presidential order, the last day on which anyone could improve his draft status by merely getting married.” One hundred and seventy-one couples were married, sixty seven couples married by one justice of the peace. Such mass amounts of weddings bring into question whether these individuals were uniting for love or as a means to avoid the draft. If this hypothesis is accurate, this could truly be viewed as marital convenience at its best.
On this same day, the justice of the peace, James Brennan, who married sixty-six of those couples said: ““I’ve got it (the ceremony) down from five to three minutes,” “I could have married them en masse, but they’re people, not cattle. People expect more when they get married.”” I find that these two quotes are highly contradictory to one another. If people expected “more” then probably wouldn’t be in Las Vegas and they certainly wouldn’t want a three-minute ceremony. Didion excels in explaining what should be viewed as two sincere concerns of the justice of the peace. Unfortunately, Mr. Brennan demeans the sanctity of holy matrimony by not honoring each ceremony, as it rightly should be. He spoke against marrying “en masse,” when in actuality the quality of the ceremonies would most likely have been strengthened.
Many citizens in our country prefer to marry in chapels, but when Joan launches her readers to “Strip chapels” a complete new viewpoint is established. “But what strikes one most about the Strip chapels,” Didion instigates. Strip chapels? By inserting the word strip in front of chapel, Didion captures any possibility of the word chapel sounding adequate. Going to a bar is suitable to most, but when the word strip is connected with bar, it turns into a social morés. It is commonly useless of for two persons to befall into one unit in a strip chapel. If the name strip chapel is not vulgar enough these “sacred places” chose to embellish their chapels with flashy “stained-glass paper windows and their artificial bouvardia.” Not only does it create one to question the customers, it makes you question the company as well.
“Las Vegas is the most extreme and allegorical of American settlements, bizarre and beautiful in its venality and in its devotion to immediate gratification.” This is a very powerful quote that truly defines what Las Vegas stands for. The definition of allegory is a story, poem, or picture, which can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one. The definition of venal is showing or motivated by susceptibility to bribery. That brings into question what kind of hidden meaning does this picture have? When I look at the whole picture – the gambling, the bribery, the mob scene, the prostitution, and the weddings, I question their character, morals and values. Being that so many morally unacceptable acts are so widely accepted, I question how easily it would be to personally fall into these pattern, if part of that society constantly. Didion is trying to make sense and relate that this wondrous place is exciting and has a nonstop lifestyle, non-the-less also has its’ downfalls.
Throughout Didion’s whole essay, not one time was the significance of God talked about. As one offers themselves to another partner under the eyes of God, “until death do us part” the substance of the ritual should participate more of a part in the laws to be married. A promise that is “everlasting” shouldn’t be allowed to be taken, by a drunken woman, who needs to hurry home to “get the kids.” Didion was trying to let her readers to comprehend how tolerable the lack of morals is, in parts of our culture. Didion has done an outstanding job of effectively achieving her proposed meaning.