John R. Tunis S. L. Thomas - Essay

S. L. Thomas

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The title "American Girl" is rather unfortunate. It is too diffuse, covers too much territory, whereas the heroine, Florence Farley, with whom the book deals as child and young woman, is an individualized human being with a special life and a special soul of her own, and not just any American girl. The picture of her childhood is most vivid. An attractive, interesting, delicate little girl, she happens to show a particular aptitude for tennis playing. This determines her career. She becomes a tennis champion.

Mr. Tunis has done well to choose the background of sport. He is most at home in the world of sport, as we know from his various writings. But it is essential, in order to do justice to the book, to bear in mind that the author has used the knowledge of his specialty merely for the purpose of providing authentic and convincing settings. In all else he is purely the novelist with the artist's eye to the portrayal of his men and women and the unfolding of the life story of his heroine. He shows that he knows his men and women as well as he knows the technique of their profession….

"American Girl" is [primarily] a tragedy, with Florence Farley as its pathetic heroine. Naturally, after she has grown to womanhood, her soul reactions, the direction of her emotions, the whole ensemble, in fact, which we call a person's character, is to a large extent determined by her career and the environment into which she is cast...

(The entire section is 424 words.)