Paired Texts > Keeping Up with the Joneses
We've identified these texts as great options for text pairings based on similar themes, literary devices, topic, or writing style. Supplement your lesson with one or more of these options and challenge students to compare and contrast the texts. To assign a paired text, click on the text to go to its page and click the "Assign Text" button there.
Jane Austen (1775-1817) was an English novelist who is famous for writing works of romantic fiction set among the British upper class. Pride and Prejudice, published in 1813, deals with the issues of class, marriage, manners, and morality. In this scene, the protagonist, Elizabeth Bennett, is visited by Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who is furious about a rumor she heard that could threaten her plans for her daughter.Pair “Keeping up with the Joneses” and “An Excerpt from Pride and Prejudice” and ask students to discuss the role of class and social status in our lives. How does it affect us daily or on a larger scale? How do we see this pressure and exclusivity play out in Austen’s text?
"The Transformation of Arachne Into a Spider" from Ovid's Metamorphoses is a classic myth in which a nymph named Arachne offends the goddess Athena and suffers the consequences for her lack of humility.Pair this text with Ovid’s Metamorphosis to discuss similarities between ancient religions, along with mythological symbolism and tropes.
According to a recent study published in Psychological Science, spending money on experiences rather than materials can indeed bring people joy.Pair “Keeping Up With the Joneses” with “You Can Buy Happiness, If It’s An Experience” and ask students to contrast the central ideas of the two texts. If, according to this study, people are made happier from experiences than property, why do we feel compelled to own all the same things as our peers?
Why did Aldrich Ames, former C.I.A. agent, betray his country to spy for the K.G.B.?Pair “What Makes Aldrich Ames Tick” with “Keeping Up with the Joneses” and ask students to analyze Ames’ desire to accumulate wealth and social status. Was money the true driver that led Ames to betray America?
In Gary Soto's short story "Mother and Daughter," a young girl is embarrassed when her mother can't buy her a new dress for the school dance.Pair “Keeping Up With the Joneses” with “Mother and Daughter” and ask students to discuss whether Yollie and Mrs. Moreno are worried about “keeping up” with other families. What do Yollie and her mother worry about — do they worry about money, or are their worries actually about something else?
In Alice Gerstenberg's one-act drama "Fourteen," Mrs. Pringle hosts a dinner party that does not go as planned when guests cancel at the last minute.Pair “Keeping Up With the Joneses” with “Fourteen” and ask students to discuss how both texts explore the importance of projecting a certain image. How is Mrs. Pringle attempting to portray a certain image and social status to her guests at the dinner party? How are Mrs. Pringle’s actions a form of “keeping up with the Joneses”?
In "How the Need to Belong Influences Human Behavior and Motivation," Kendra Cherry discusses the psychology behind the desire to belong.Pair “Keeping Up with the Joneses” with “How the Need to Belong Influences Human Behavior and Motivation” and ask students to discuss status as a type of group. What are some of the characteristics of an individual’s status? How does the need to belong influence a person’s desire to maintain or change their status? Do you think this is a good thing or a bad thing?
In "Button, Button," a young couple is presented with a morbid choice: press a button that will kill someone they do not know in exchange for $50,000.Pair “Keeping up with the Joneses” with “Button, Button” and ask students whether they think this philosophy has any influence on the characters in “Button, Button.” Do you think it would have been possible for Norma and Arthur to achieve their financial goals without the button unit?
A child's fascination with a unique family quickly turns sour.Pair “Keeping Up with the Joneses” and “Us and Them” and have students discuss which family in “Us and Them” are trying to “keep up with the Joneses”. Who is the “us” and who is the “them” in “Us and Them”? How does striving for what our neighbors have help define the “us” and “them”?
In "Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket," a man must confront his mortality and re-examine his priorities in the face of an unexpected challenge.Pair “Keeping Up with the Joneses” with “Contents of the Dead Man’s Pocket” and ask students to discuss ways in which Tom risks falling into the trap of “Keeping up with the Joneses.” Do students think Tom was trying to “buy his way to the top”? Why or why not? Ask students to discuss whether or not Tom is preoccupied with wealth and status.