Never Come Morning, like all of Algren’s novels, is a study of doom working itself out. Bruno “Lefty” Bicek is a young Polish American imprisoned in the Polish slums of Chicago, so oppressively isolated that the outside filters through only in films and tabloids. These promise a glorified version of success, but the American Dream is closer to nightmare in this world of police lineups, gangs, petty crime, and brothels. Here everyone is either the hunter or the hunted, who have nothing to lose but are too worried about being cheated of what they are owed to trust anyone else.
Like the rest, Bruno, hungering for boxing glory, scorns the Old World values of hard work and religious faith, but he is not strong enough to live by the New World’s capitalistic code of violence and deception. Bruno thinks of himself as a wolf, but he is a dreamer instead of a schemer; though sensitive and humane, he is too crippled by conscience to protect himself and too insecure to protect others. Despite his boxing prowess, he cannot stand up to his more brutal inferiors, either the knife-wielding Fireball Kodadek or the blackmailing Bonifacy “the barber” Konstantine, who wants to control his boxing career.
In a world where everything is a cheat, love seems as false as every other promise, but to destroy love in Algren’s novels is to destroy oneself. This is what happens when Bruno, asserting himself as a gang leader, seduces and betrays Steffi...
(The entire section is 554 words.)