Besides the obvious, what are the connections between Alfred Kazin's A Walker in the City and other books by immigrants and first generation Americans of similar background?
I hope I won't mention too many obvious connections! Alfred Kazin's memoir describes his eastern Broklyn childhood and his journey from this marginal position to the center of New York's literary establishment as an adult. As with many immigrants' memoirs, there are several travels and journeys involved in the narrative. On the one hand, there is Kazin's family's travel to America and the journey that the young Kazin has to make from family and ethnic traditions to American beliefs. This is represented by his aspiration to cross the boundaries of the neighborhood where he grew up and to make progress towards the less ethnic areas of the city. This is similar to the sociological theories of immigration that were developed in the 1920s and 1930s by the Chicago School of Urban Sociology. Successful Americanization is measured also with the distance that the immigrants put between themselves and the neighborhood where they first arrived. Significantly, Kazin's memoir ends with the author looking at the Manhattan skyline where he intends to move. Yet, as the first section, "From the Subway to the Synagogue", makes clear such journey is non-linear, but circular and the author always has to come back to his childhood neighborhood even as the literary fame that he has become in the meantime. Therefore, to borrow the sociological character of the "marginal man" developed by Robert Park and the Chicago School, Kazin shows us a man divided by two traditions, constantly travelling and walking both geographically and culturally between them.
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