In “Sing the Song of My Condo”, Evelyn Lau in an ironic tone tells a story of a would-be-homeowner, desperately searching for an appropriate flat for about 12 months. Although it needs to be admitted that the writing belongs to the category of fiction rather than argumentative articles, it is possible to identify the major idea of the literary work, which is the difficulty of making the determinative step towards real estate purchase, as it implies choosing a place which will remain the person’s home for many years. In general, the logic of presentation is valid; however, the major problem of the argument is the lack of balance between stereotypes, emotions, and thoughts, which can be found mainly in oversimplifications, focus on “red herring presentation” and the logical gap in the transition to the story’s ending.
The narrator of the story
First and foremost, it needs to be admitted that the narrator, who seeks to join the cohort of middle-class homeowners, actually has a quite simplistic and idealistic vision of this group. In particular, it is noted in the short story that “I knew then I wanted to live in the world of the mortgage brochures, which never showed these middle-class people lying awake among twisted sheets in their new master bedrooms or throwing up into their ceramic sinks from panic at hefty mortgages and rising interest rates. I wanted to sing the love song of the middle class” (Lau, p.395, par.5). The ideas that middle-class dwellings are always kept in perfect order and that after the narrator becomes a middle-class homeowner her flat will always be neat and clean refer to logical fallacies, namely generalization, and simplification.
It would be unwise to assume that all middle-class citizens keep order in their flats and houses, as priorities greatly vary among people, and some of them might not approach order at home as a value. Furthermore, the narrator is unwilling to take into consideration the fact that order at home depends directly upon the owner of this home rather than upon the amount of money the person pays when buying the home.
The narrator believes that after entering the world of mortgages and interest rates she will automatically receive a cozy home and therefore fails to recognize the importance of personal responsibility for creating and, most importantly, maintaining the atmosphere of order and comfort in the house.
The character of the Laura
At the same time, the author’s argument that her realtor named Laura is a person of both kind nature and high competence is quite effective and valid. In particular, the narrator points out that she never saw Laura falling into despair or mongering conflict, i.e. she was committed to her professional responsibilities and did not allow her emotions to affect her relationships with the customer. In addition, the narrator underlines Laura’s uniqueness politely and correctly, stating that the realtor “was different from some of the other agents we encountered, who drove gold Mercedes and who staggered about in high heels and silk scarves, arrived late for appointments and then whipped us through the apartment while their pagers and cell phones incessantly beeped and rang” (Lau, p.396, par.8).
Clearly, the narrator does not present the group of real estate agents as a “crowd” and avoids generalizations, using instead her personal experience in her reasoning about the behavior of specialists from this professional area.
However, when discussing her relationships with Laura, the narrator uses a false analogy, stating that acquiring a realtor refers to a lifetime commitment and is similar to adopting a child (Lau, p.396, par.9). Primarily, the comparison is not valid, as the author equates the relationships from absolutely different areas: adoption of a child refers to care and upbringing, whereas the use of realtor’s services is associated with professional relationships.
The statement also means that the narrator intends to keep searching for a new flat for her whole life, yet it is stated earlier that is not willing to rent a flat and interact with landlords any longer. In addition, towards the end of the short story, the narrator’s situation turns out to be resolved and she spends a year of her life on-suite selection, so the statement about the never-ending relationships with the agent refers to the hyperbolized analogy.
Episodes that are lack logic
In several episodes, the argument lacks cohesion and logical connectedness. In particular, it is stated that the narrator visited some of her friends and relatives who had bought new homes, found out that these homes had huge kitchens and many empty bedrooms, and felt resentment (Lau, p.396, par.10). Also, the attempt to draw a cause-and-effect relationship is apparent, it is still hard to understand the narrator’s dislike, as the thoughts which brought about such negative emotions are not mentioned.
Therefore, the flawed logic of the presentation makes this paragraph resemble a group of sentences that are disconnected rather than integrated into a text which focuses on such events in the main character’s life as meeting friends and relatives at their place. Another episode with a flawed sequence of presentation is the description of the narrator’s experience of visiting the display of the converted building. In particular, it is stated that the narrator at first finds the suite with Greek statues attractive, but suddenly she appears to be incapable of writing an offer: “I realized that the suite was a good bargain, but as I sat on the rented leather couch I found I could not pull out my checkbook and write an offer, not without at least a night’s reflection” (Lau, p.397, par.15).
The presentation resembles a stream of consciousness, as the statements should have been linked together more clearly through adding thoughts demonstrating the narrator’s hesitation and vacillation. In the present case, the narrator also fails to outline her fears and doubts which cause such anxiety and terror, so the reader might conclude that the search for an affordable flat has undermined the narrator’s mental health due to the references to unexplainable intense emotions.
“Red herring argument”
The strengthened effective component further turns the presentation into a “red herring argument”. It is stated that after the narrator finally decides to purchase the dwelling, she is informed that it has been sold already. She feels extremely strong grief and in the following weeks endures an emotional disturbance which manifests itself through nightmares: “when I slept I was tortured by dreams in which I walked through beautiful apartments that were within my price range, then just as I pulled out my checkbook I would wake up.
Several times I dreamed I bought an apartment with three balcony doors but no balconies, and I knew that one day I would open the doors, step out and fall to my death” (Lau, p.398, par.22). As one can assume, the narrator suggests that the process of looking for a flat has caused psychological trauma. The “red herring” component of this argument refers to depicting the search for an ideal home as a dangerous process.
At the end of the story
Finally, the narrator’s transition to the ending of her story is too sudden, as it is mentioned briefly that after a year of search Laura and she has finally managed to find a place which the narrator is ready to purchase. However, the narrator does not inform how she comes to the decision to purchase the last flat she mentions. The ending of the literary work would benefit from the discussion of the criteria which in the narrator’s opinion, her future home should fit into.
Thus, although the literary work successfully represents the idea that there is several inner barriers that prevent the person from becoming a homeowner, it includes several major logical fallacies such as the simplified vision of middle-class homeowner’s life, lack of reasoning, overstatement of emotional difficulties in disconnected assumptions and “red herring” presentation of the narrator’s experience, and, finally, poor coherence in the transition to the story’s ending.