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John Mc Phee's In Search Of Marvin Gardens

1242 words - 5 pages

John McPhee's In Search of Marvin Gardens

Im his essay In Search of Marvin Gardens, John McPhee examines Atlantic City, New Jersey, the city upon which the board game of Monopoly was based. In his writing, he touches upon both the board game and the physical city equally which begs the reader to ponder the purpose of McPhee’s essay. Did he write his essay to provide for the reader the physical basis for the game of Monopoly? Or did McPhee wish to expose the once glamorous AtlanticCity as a city in its present near-squalor state? As nothing is withoutpurpose, so to must this essay strive to convey something to its readers. It is the purpose of this critique to analyze McPhee’s In Search of MarvinGardens in order to uncover the true purpose behind his writing.Through narrative analysis processes, the true meaning of McPhee’s will be uncovered.

McPhee begins his essay with the description of a turn in Monopoly. He then quickly movesto a description of a street (specifically Vermont Avenue) from the actualcity of Atlantic City. He continues in this fashion throughout the essay.As he moves from property to property in his game, he moves descriptivelyfrom street to street and from sector to sector in Atlantic City. McPheebrings in a bit of history as describes each "property" for the reader.From Anthony J. Drexel Biddle and the Brighton Hotel to changes that havetaken place concerningthe type of criminals held in the prison, McPheeoffers us a now and thencomparison throughout and all the while continuinghis game of Monopoly.

In order to analyze the essay and answer the question, a systematic analytic approach mustbeset forth. In the case of a narrative analytic approach, there are twomainsteps. First, the piece must be analyzed comprehensively. Thus, theessaymust be examined in terms of its literary parts in order to graspit "comprehensively." In general those literary parts which ought to beexamined include setting, character, narrator, events, temporal relations,causal relations, audience, and theme. The majority of these literary partsare applicable to the McPhee piece. However, some have no bearing uponthe answering of the question and will consequently be omitted from thiscritique?specifically audience andtheme. This essay is not directed towardsa specific audience, just whoeverhappens to read it. The theme is essentiallythe answer to the initial questionposed and thus must be answered thoughanalysis of the other literary aspects.The second and final analytic stepis to, after analysis, select the mostpertinent aspects to the questionand simply use them to answer the question.

The first literary aspect which must be addressed is that of the setting. In McPhee’spiece,the most obvious and general setting is that of Atlantic City. Beyondthis,however, the setting is somewhat indefinite or ever-changing. At times,the narrator seems to be sitting down, emersed in a game of Monopoly withhis opponent. At other instances,...

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