A One-Way Ticket to Palookaville

“I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum,” Terry Malloy says to his brother in the climactic scene of On the Waterfront, a narrative – – in part – –  about shattered dreams and their consequences.

Each of the three texts we’ve looked at over the past month – – Blood on the ForgeOn the Waterfront, and The Magic of Blood – –  seems to be concerned with the fact and fate of has-been and wannabe contenders.  How does each text define the meaning and value of the dream to “be somebody” for its working-class characters?  How does each text explore the ambivalence of this ambition, especially in relation the characters’ class conditions?  Is it a good and/or bad thing to be a “winner on the pass line”?  How do these stories of precarious self-respect expose the contradictions of class and dignity?

Your goal in this essay is to explore these paradoxes of working-class personhood.  You should discuss at least two of the three texts we’ve read and talked about.  State the main argument of your three to four-page essay in the first sentence of your essay.  Use concrete examples and quotation to support and develop your argument.  The three-strike rule applies: after the second typographical, spelling, grammatical, or punctuation error, I’ll stop reading your essay.

Questions? Let me know.