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"The Prison"

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by

Taylor Sparks

on 27 September 2013

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Transcript of "The Prison"

"The Prison"
by Bernard Malamud

Author Bio
Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1914
Grew up during the Great Depression.
Was excused from military service in World War II to care for his widowed mother.
Renowned for his short stories, drawing inspiration from his childhood spent in a tenement neighborhood crowded with immigrant Jews.
Historical Context
Written in 1950
The Great Brink's Robbery occurred during this year, in which 11 masked bandits stole $2.8 million from an armored car, possibly inspiring the reoccurring theme of crime & shoplifting
Genre
Realistic Fiction
Fictional, but plausible
Understanding of people
Unlike romanticism, gives cut and dry story
Point of View
Third Person
Setting
Prince Street in the Village - Tommy's candy store and upstairs apartment
Author's Purpose
To show that we often don't get what we want & things don't go according to plan
We are accountable for our own mistakes, & if we don't fight them, we can get trapped
Plot Summary
Tommy Castelli, who feels suffocated by domestic life, got tangled up in the wrong group of friends as a kid & ended up getting caught committing robbery. As a result, his father arranged for him to settle down with a candy shop & a woman he didn't love. On a particularly bad morning, he notices a little girl stealing candy bars from his store. Desiring to correct her ways, he devises a plan to inadvertently convince her to stop by leaving a note in a chocolate wrapper. She ends up getting caught by his wife before she has the chance to read it.
Character Analysis
Tommy
Is utterly dissatisfied with life. Finds temporary happiness in gambling & making dishonest money, but ultimately never reaches his dreams of making something of himself. Considers it his responsibility not to let the girl follow in his footsteps.
Girl
Possibly a kleptomaniac. May or may not have been stealing with the intention of giving candy to her mother. Resents Tommy for her mother's punishment.

Symbolism
Girl
Symbolic of Tommy's adolescence & everything about his past he wishes he could change.
Uncle Dom
Reminiscent of his brief escape from the home he hated as a child, & the escape he wishes he could make now.
$55
Tommy's savings that Rosa doesn't
know about. In his mind, it symbolizes his "golden ticket" out.

Themes
Unrealized dreams
Desire to escape
Actions & consequences
Facing of reality
Loss of hope
Working class struggles
Full transcript