Write a complete critical analysis of Post Office by Charles Bukowski.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

A critical analysis of Post Office by Charles Bukowski will include a discussion of the effectiveness and interest of the novel's plot, characters, setting, organization, style, themes, and genre. Let's look briefly at each of these to get you started on the assignment.

The plot of Post Office is episodic and focuses in on various incidents and eras in the life of protagonist Henry Chinaski. You can write a bit about each of the novel's episodes, but do more than just summarize them. Instead, talk about how they contribute to the development of Chinaski's character and the novel's themes.

A critical analysis should also explore the relationships between the characters and how they affect Chinaski. In this case, the author includes several of Chinaski's lovers and coworkers, and you might consider what Chinaski learns from each of them.

The novel has several settings, as Chinaski shifts his residence from Los Angeles to Texas and back to Los Angeles. Think, too, about Chinaski's homes and whether or not he fits into them.

In terms of organization, the novel is split into six sections, each of which is concentrated around a mistake of some sort. Reflect on how this organization is effective in an episodic plot.

Stylistically, you might consider the novel's first-person point of view, use of metaphors and similes, symbolism, and even metanarrative elements. For the latter, notice how the narrator refers to writing a novel, implying that what we have in front of us is that very book.

You should consider the novel's themes as well, perhaps focusing in on the futility of relationships, gambling, or dissatisfaction in the workplace.

Finally, you should notice that Post Office falls in the genre of autobiographical novel, for it actually mirrors many aspects of the author's own life.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team