“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 Forge, On 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.