New Insights into CS/D From a Literary Analysis of Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire of the Vanities


  • Newell D. Wright Western Carolina University
  • Val Larsen Northeast Missouri State University
  • Roger Higgs Western Carolina University


This study uses a hermeneutical examination of Tom Wolfe's novel The Bonfire of the Vanities to generate fresh insights into consumer satisfaction and dissatisfaction with possessions. The theory of embedded markets, the expectancy/disconfirmation model of CS/D, and the Diderot Effect are used to analyze the protagonist Sherman McCoy's satisfaction and dissatisfaction with the purchase of an apartment and legal services. The embedded markets concept accounts for McCoy's initial set of expectations about what one must own. The expectancy/disconfirmation model sheds light on McCoy's level of satisfaction/dissatisfaction with specific purchases he makes in the course of the story. And the Diderot effect explains why he adopts a new set of product expectations as the story progresses. Together, these theories provide some new insights into the satisfaction and dissatisfaction experiences of modern consumers.



2022-03-07 — Updated on 2022-03-11


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