Summary (Masterplots II: American Fiction Series, Revised Edition)
Set in a large unnamed American city in the Midwest that seems much like St. Louis, The MacGuffin is the story of some two days in the life of Bobbo Druff, commissioner of streets. The novel successfully functions on many levels; it exhibits a multifaceted complexity in that it is the story of a family, a love intrigue of the husband with mistress, a murder mystery, a tale of smuggling, and a political statement. While being all of these, it is mostly about Bobbo Druff and “The MacGuffin,” his psychological other and controlling self.
The MacGuffin has no chapter or sectional divisions; Elkin unfolds the narrative entirely by relating the thoughts and actions of Bobbo Druff during a Friday and Saturday of some unspecified weekend in the early 1990’s. Even so, the novel is structured around some six to eight episodic adventures, determined primarily by Druff’s physical location. Great portions of the novel are internal monologues, many of which are between Druff and The MacGuffin; other internal monologues occur as well, and there are also interchanges in dialogue with other characters.
When the novel opens, readers learn almost immediately of the recent mysterious death of Su’ad al-Najaf, a young college student and an illegal immigrant from Lebanon who sold rugs and dated Druff’s son, Michael. Su’ad had died some forty hours before the beginning of the present action, having been repeatedly run over by an...
(The entire section is 1095 words.)
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