H. P. Lovecraft

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What is the importance of the city in "The Horror at Red Hook" by H. P. Lovecraft?

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Any discussions concerning "The Horror at Red Hook" must recognize Lovecraft's own deeply racist attitudes, given that these attitudes are actually highly important in shaping how he depicts and understands this urban setting.

Be aware: at the time this story was written, Lovecraft was actually living in New York City, which was one of the largest, most densely populated urban centers in the entire world. With its population growth fueled in large part by immigration, it was a highly multiethnic and multicultural urban milieu, a quality that is reflected in this story, where Lovecraft depicts immigrants as devil-worshipping cultists and a threat to civilization.

In this respect, there is a sense of deep hostility throughout the story to these urban spaces (and particularly to the neighborhood of Red Hook, which Lovecraft depicts as a center of squalor and depravity). For Lovecraft, New York's multiethnic character is actually closely intertwined with the dangers represented in the cult itself; multiculturalism, in this story, is treated as actively pernicious, and it is from the city's multiethnic character that the threat of the cult takes shape.

Thus, not only is New York City the setting in which this horror story takes place; the city, in its demographic makeup, is treated as the primary source of horror, one that shapes the very existence of the cult to begin with.

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