There are multiple settings in Bloom’s Away; the protagonist, Lillian, moves from place to place as the story progresses. The scenes in Turov, Russia, are brutal with the murders of Jews and the desperate longings of a mother for a lost child. But Lillian does not stay in Russia for long. She is shipped to a relative in New York City, where she must learn English as well as survival skills for an immigrant in a large city.
In the sections that occur in New York, the author provides descriptions of a city seen through an immigrant’s eyes and through a Jewish girl’s eyes. Not only must Lillian learn a new language, but she must also learn how to make her way in a world that might easily be described, given her circumstances, as a world against her. Lillian learns fast. She uses her dual languages as well as her good looks to her advantage.
Lillian acclimates very quickly and does well for herself. But as soon as she receives word that her daughter might well still be alive, she begs and borrows her way to Seattle. A part of this story takes place with Lillian locked in a janitor’s closet on a Trans-American train.
Once in Seattle, Lillian “walks out the wrong door.” By exiting the train station from this door, she enters Skid Row, a place thick with crime. She wakes up on a wet street with a lump on her head and a prostitute standing over her. It is through this prostitute’s life that Seattle is visited. This is 1920s Seattle, still considered a pioneer town booming with money from logging mills. In Pioneer Square off Yesler Way, not far from the waterfront, bars and prostitution reign. Eventually Lillian regains her strength and some money then gets on a boat and heads for Alaska.
In Alaska, Lillian, exhausted from walking to a small town, falls asleep in a barn. She is awakened by the local sheriff who is tempted to marry her but instead places her in a woman’s detention hall because...
(The entire section is 513 words.)