A Summer's Reading Bernard Malamud


In this essay I will be exploring a topic most deeply embedded in New York’s history, which happens to be a theme widely pertinent and of extensive influence on the characters and the plot of “A Summer’s Reading”, by Bernard Malamud.

New York has, since the days it was known as New Amsterdam, been the most prominent port of entry into North America. From the crown of the Statue of Liberty, one could easily make out scores of ship entering her harbor daily, and onboard, millions of immigrants hailing from every corner of the globe. For those who stepped on solid land after the grueling journey, Lady Liberty was a physical representation of a fresh start. “The American Dream”, reverberating deep within her hollow body enchanted
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Of all the literary pieces presented to us, “A Summer’s Reading” stood out to me in particular. The relatively simple (and seemingly straightforward) plotline camouflages an intricate set of relationships between the characters and their lives. It was Mr. Cattanzara who instantly caught my eye; As I sat bewildered as to how an educated man could fathom be slaving away at a change booth, I realized there was more to these characters than they may have cared to admit.

With the location and era gleaned from the story and biographical information regarding the author, the pieces instantly fell into place. The influx of immigration to the United States in the early 1900’s, the scale of the events of the time, the sheer number of the people affected by them and the depth to which those effects seeped through social structures elucidated the story rapidly. The deeper I dug, the more prominent the links between the story and the reality of the time became. The character’s lives, employment, homes, daily routine, etc. seemed all to be a product of a greater system. Needless to say, I was

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