How are the city and jungle each described in the novel Lost City Radio?

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Lost City Radio, the jungle is described as vast and mysterious. For example, Victor's favorite spot in his village is described in the following way:

"[it is] an empty field at the edge of the jungle, a sometime park, sometime trash dump full of flowering wild plants and lizards with golden eyes, a field alive with the cawing of invisible birds" (23).

The field is full of mystery, as it has bizarre flowers sprouting in it, along with strange lizards and birds that can't be seen. Its vastness and strangeness make it incomprehensible. 

Rey later describes the jungle to Norma in the following way:

"It goes on forever. It's endless invention, it's gaudy, it's gnarled trunks and rotting husks, sunlight peeking through the canopy, and bursts of rain hitting the roof of the forest like tapping on metal. And color, color, color" (65-66). 

Rey's description of the jungle emphasizes its vastness and mystery, as it's cloaked in darkness and the sunlight barely shines. The sound of the rain is compared in a simile to the sound of metal, emphasizing the strength of the downpour. The gnarled trunks and rotting husks are symbols of the confusion and decay of the vast jungle, and the tone that is implied in this passage is one of mystery and eeriness, as the jungle is so vast that it defies comprehension.

As Norma walks with Rey through downtrodden parts of the city, the city is described in the following way: "Houses that looked like tombs, once-bright colors obscured by layers of soot" (page 65). The houses are compared, in a simile, to tombs, and they are dark and decayed. The tone that is conveyed through these images is one of decay and despair. Rey describes these city neighborhoods in the following way:  

"Neighborhoods like these are networks of impulses...human, electrical, biological, like the forest: in the summer, inexplicable carnivals of flesh; in the winter, blankets in the windows and darkened homes" (65). 

Rey uses a metaphor to compare the neighborhood to a series of impulses, making the urban neighborhoods seem alive. The neighborhoods have an energy and life that make them almost seem human--they are riotous in the summer and deadened in the winter, much in the way a person might be. The tone in this description is one of awe, as Rey marvels at the untamed quality that its inhabitants give the city.