Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Chicago. City of the street tough Studs Lonigan’s birth, youth, and eventual death. From 1916 to 1931, Chicago goes through significant changes. Once insulated into distinct ethnic neighborhoods with the different racial components seriously “turf” conscious, it gradually becomes more racially, culturally, and politically diversified, and the subsequent changes play havoc with Studs’s self-esteem. The political corruption and petty crime that allow Studs to see himself as a self-proclaimed tough guy shift as he grows older. The adult responsibilities he is forced to take on during the Great Depression wreck his confidence in himself. Throughout his life, however, the streets of Chicago remain the one constant in his life even as they evolve; they hold Studs to what he has been and hopes to become.

*Fifty-eighth and Indiana Avenue

*Fifty-eighth and Indiana Avenue. Chicago neighborhood in which young Studs and his gang hang out. From his early adolescence, this street corner is the place where Studs feels he is a force to be reckoned with; here he establishes his reputation as a tough guy. When Studs is a boy, the mostly Irish Catholic neighborhood has private homes and apartment buildings housing Irish families, and Studs can always walk down its streets and feel true to himself. In later years, when he is in his late twenties, he occasionally returns to the old neighborhood—now filled with Jewish and African American residents and no Irish—and may still be reminded of the “good old...

(The entire section is 636 words.)


(Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)

Beach, Joseph Warren. American Fiction, 1920-1940. New York: Macmillan, 1941. Farrell’s fiction examined in the context of his contemporaries. Sections dealing with themes in Studs Lonigan include “James T. Farrell: Tragedy of the Poolroom Loafer” and “JTF: The Plight of the Children.”

Branch, Edgar M. James T. Farrell. New York: Twayne, 1971. A sound assessment of Farrell’s achievement as well as a perceptive interpretation of his aesthetic philosophy. Two separate chapters deal with Studs Lonigan specifically.

Frohock, William M. The Novel of Violence in America, 1920-1950. Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1958. In a section entitled “James T. Farrell: The Precise Content,” there is an analysis of the novelist’s “documentary” style of writing that is much in evidence in the trilogy.

Walcutt, Charles C. American Literary Naturalism: A Divided Stream. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1956. An analytical account of naturalistic literary theory and Farrell’s “aspects of telling the whole truth.”

Wald, Alan M. James T. Farrell: The Revolutionary Socialist Years. New York: New York University Press, 1978. A thorough historical account of Farrell’s intellectual roots and evolving political stance. Important for an understanding of the sociopolitical underpinnings of the trilogy.