RE: RARA-AVIS: nightmare alley

From: Robison Michael R CNIN (
Date: 11 Jul 2002

Kerry says:
...miker does say: "the implication is that stan's dilemma just might be a result of the evils of capitalism, and thats pure rubbish."

So I'm curious if that's because of the structure of the story, or if miker finds the idea itself to be pure rubbish. Then I might know whether I'll enjoy the book.


hi kerry,

mario is correct. i was not waving the glorious green- back flag of capitalism. i did not intend any comment on the pros and cons of the two economic systems.

in the admittedly small amount of noir that i've read, socialistic/communistic themes pop up every so often. its a natural. a very common plot in noir involves a crime committed by a poor person in a desperate hope to escape a life of miserable poverty, such as cain's
_postman always rings twice_, or anderson's _thieves like us_. the plight of the working class in a capi- talistic economy is a recurrent theme in marx's _the communist manifesto_. superficially, there appears to be a correlation. and you will indeed often read noir dialogue where the poor guy complains about the unfair- ness of it all.

but here's the irony. marx's suggestion is that the worker's standard of living could be raised by sharing the wealth. but i don't see any noir characters that would go for this slightly elevated standard. they want a considerably larger slice of the pie, and pre- ferably without the idea of actual "labor" entering the picture at all. bowie, in _thieves_, at first entertains the idea of becoming a simple farmer with his share of a bank robbery, but with a couple more robberies and all the easy money, he forgoes the idea of actually working for a living.

when gresham's stan is on the downhill slide, he shares a boxcar with a black fellow who is filled with the marxist spirit. he states, "You can't get nothing in this world by yourself." (aside: this remark is surprisingly similar to harry morgan's tor- mented last words in _to have and have not_) gres- ham himself furthers the socialistic theme by re- ferring to the mark in stan's last con as a "capi- talist".

please remember that i am a noir newbie, so anything i write should be taken with a grain of salt.

see you all on monday! the lake beckons...


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