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The Prison by Bernard Malamud

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Sophia Dalusung

on 25 April 2016

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Transcript of The Prison by Bernard Malamud

The Prison
BY: Bernard Malamud
Settings
Candy store in "The Village."
Plot
Tommy Castelli 's prison is himself. He married a girl he does not love, and together, they run a candy shop that he absolutely hates. He had troubles with the law before, and even when he's old, he makes money on an illegal slot machine. One day, he saw a little girl stealing chocolate from his shop, which reminded him of his childhood, when he also
Style
Third person point of view.
The language is very straightforward.
It contains very little dialogue, only at the end of the story.
He uses descriptive and narrative styles.
Malamud also used many devices to convey his idea.
Theme/Idea
The imprisonment people suffer even though the person is free.
Author's Background
Born: April 26, 1914, in New York.
Parents were Russian.
Won prizes for his books and stories
Professor in Oregon State University.
Taught in Bennington Collage in Vermont.
Retired shortly before his death.
Died: March 18, 1986, in New York
By: Sophia D.
Summary
Twenty-nine year old Tommy Castelli felt like his life was a prison. He was married to Rosa, the girl he does not love. They run a candy shop that was created by his father-in-law. He hated his work. He wanted to run away, but he does not have much money. Rosa controls his life, and he wanted to have his old life back. He wanted to escape the poor locality, but went the wrong direction. He once joined a gang of boys impressed with the money, but it all goes wrong, and Tommy just escaped prison. His father arranged the marriage between Rosa and Tommy, for money. Tommy didn't like the idea, so he ran away for a while, but came back and was trapped in a loveless marriage, and working in a candy store.
Quotes
"He found himself thinking about the way his life had turned out."

"He ought to do something for her, warn her to cut it out before she got trapped and fouled up her life before it got started."

"He had to sit down. He kept trying to make the desire to speak to her go away, but it came back stronger than ever."

"'I let her take it', said Tommy"
Characters
The main character in the story.
He is the protagonist.
He is the owner of the candy shop.
He tried to change the little girl, who was stealing chocolate from his store, to prevent her from the harsh punishments.
Tommy Castelli
Rosa
Little Girl
Wife of the main character.
She run the store with Tommy.
She catches the little girl stealing chocolates from the shop.
She was a ten year old little girl
The antagonist
Asks for red and yellow tissue paper.
She steals chocolate from Tommy's candy shop every Monday.
Devices
Thank You!
committed petty crimes. He tries to help the little girl stop stealing, but the girl was caught by his wife, Rosa, and even when he tried to help the little girl again, she was rude to him.
One day, Tommy found a little girl stealing chocolates from his shop. It reminded him of his childhood when he was exposed in petty crimes by his Uncle Dom who was in prison. He wanted to help the girl to stop stealing, but struggles to think of something. He wanted to talk to her instead, but does not have courage to, and he kept making excuses to not talk to her. He finally decided to leave her a note inside the chocolate case, instead for her next visit on Monday, but she does not show up.
He was disappointed, and he decided to take his afternoon nap. When he came down to check the store, he heard Rosa's screeching voice. He saw that she caught the little girl. Rosa was being harsh with the little girl, so Tommy slapped Rosa. The little girl's mother then came in after hearing the commotion. Tommy wanted to help so he said that the little girl can have the chocolates. Little girl tries to escape her mother's wrath by saying that the other chocolate was for her. Her mother threatens her for stealing again. While the girl was being dragged away, she faced Tommy, and rudely stick her tongue out.
Tommy always dreamed of his freedom from the “the thickly tenemented, kidsquawking neighborhood, with its lousy poverty.” He managed to escape, but ended up coming back and being trapped in a marriage with Rosa. When he saw the little girl stealing chocolate, he found something interesting in his life. He wanted to change the girl's life to prevent her from having a life like Tommy's, but his intentions did not go the way he wanted.
When he saw the little girl, it reminded him of his childhood, and how his life turned out because of what he did before.
He wanted to change the little girl's future to prevent her from experiencing harsh punishments, and being trapped before her life, even started, since she was just a ten year old girl.
Tommy was affected by what the little girl did. He felt like he should talk to her about it, but didn't have the courage.
Tommy lets the little girl have the chocolates to help her from getting punished by her mother.
Metaphor
The life that Tommy was being forced into, was his prison. The author described the Tommy's prison as an "unendurably slow hours and endless drivel that went with selling candy, cigarettes, and soda water." Tommy feels like he was "being trapped in old mistakes." It seems like he is unlikely to escape his prison.
Symbols
The little girl represents Tommy's old life, and how he used to do small crimes.
The tissue paper that the little girl buys every Monday is only a cover up for her to steal the chocolate from Tommy's candy shop.
The irony in the story was Tommy's fate being a command. His life was an imprisonment like any criminal serving a sentence in prison. Tommy's life was a life sentence with little hope of parole.
The title itself is an idiom. The story was not about a literal prison, but someone's life feeling like a prison. Tommy's feeling of "being trapped in old mistakes" describes how he feels about his life now. He feels trapped because of his arranged marriage, created by Tommy's and Rosa's fathers, and his boring job in supervising the candy shop.
Irony
Idioms
Full transcript