The Pawnbroker And Third And Indiana

1459 words - 6 pages

How does the setting and the environment have a direct impact on the
emotional mood and emphasize the central theme of the novels The Pawnbroker
and Third and Indiana.

In the novels The Pawnbroker and Third and Indiana the setting and the
environment has a direct impact on the emotional mood and emphasize
the central theme of the novels. Both novels are set in ghetto urban
areas. Steve Lopez's novel Third and Indiana is set in South
Philadelphia's area called Kensington or better known as the
"Badlands". The Badlands was an industrial area which was prosperous
in the past because of factory jobs, but as the factories closed down
and many lost their jobs and Kensington transformed into a place of
drugs, violence, and debauchery. Similarly in Edward Lewis Wallant's
The Pawnbroker the novel is set in the unsafe urban area in New York
City's Harlem. After the period of the Harlem Renaissance, Harlem
suffered from poverty and people relied on the drug trade and crime to
get by in their lives.

In Third and Indiana the setting foreshadows violence and darkness of
the novel. An example of how Lopez foreshadows the darkness of the
novel when Lopez describes, "It (Kensington Avenue) sat in eternal
darkness and gloom under the El, a symbol of the city industrial
death."(9) The quote explains how the reader will expect death and
darkness on Kensington Avenue. Lopez throughout the beginning of the
novel offers the reader subtle hints of what to expect in the novel
death and violence. He reiterates the effects of the negative
environment towards the end of the book. "Because it's not a person
(Diablo), it's the fucking neighborhood. You can't kill the fucking
neighborhood."(279) The quote explains the constant negative vibe of
Kensington no matter if Gabriel kills Diablo.

In addition, The Pawnbroker's Harlem setting also tells the reader the
constant threat of violence and evil in the novel. "Stand absolutely
still and lick on that gun barrel for a while. That old Joe would pull
the trigger if I just winked at him."(163) Wallant explains the
constant threat of violence Sol has to endure living and working in
Harlem. To Sol the city is like hell or purgatory. Sol thinks this is
his on going punishment continued from the death of his family in the
Holocaust to living and owning a pawnshop in Harlem. Wallant gives a
tactile imagery of Harlem as an urban wasteland. An example of how Sol
thinks of Harlem, "He seemed to hear the millions of voices like the
shrilling of countless animals, to smell the dirt and age and sin of
the teeming city."(212) The quote occurs when Sol returns from his
cruise with Marilyn, he had a great time with Marilyn during the
cruise but when he returns to Harlem he feels the anger and the doom
of the city. Sol feels that he can not escape Harlem, similar to the
way he can not escape the memory of the Holocaust. Sol neither feels
comfortable in either his home or work. At home he...

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