The Indian Wants the Bronx centers on the irrational and random violence that seemed to dominate society during the mid-twentieth century and became more pervasive as the century waned. While the play highlights language barriers, the senselessness that Horovitz attributes to postmodern society exacerbates the problems. Both Murph and Joey qualify as “lost boys,” grappling for some semblance of meaning and purpose. In the absence of meaning, however, they engage in mock one-upmanship. To prove their own self-worth, they must diminish the self-worth of others. This is evident both in their interactions and in the almost confessional exchange between Joey and Gupta when Murph is offstage. The fear and misunderstanding that all the characters experience preclude anything but terrified and irrational reactions to others.
To emphasize this point, Horovitz relies on sparse dialogue, punctuated by significant gestures. While he presents Gupta as a responsible adult who believes in human compassion, he presents the boys as immature adolescents who, while capable of compassion, transform everything into a game without considering the consequences of their actions. The contrast works to Horovitz’s advantage insofar as it allows him to distinguish the two mind-sets without casting judgments. Significantly, Horovitz demonstrates that Gupta, because of his fear and unfamiliarity with the language and environment, is equally capable of violent acts.
Initially, the audience has no preconceptions about any...
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