Altamont. Small North Carolina town in which Eugene grows up. Annoyed with his mother’s gossiping and his sister’s complaining, frustrated with his family’s financial problems and the general static superficiality of the town, he longs to leave. He is revolted by the constriction and triviality of what he regards as the paltry lives around him. He desires to escape these constraints and the hopeless location of his childhood. Hoping for a pilgrimage of discovery and escape, he resolves to travel to a northern land of promise where he can achieve understanding and satisfaction. Altamont stands for the beginning, the departure point; it is the place that Eugene works against but is also the place he works from.
*Harvard University. Venerable New England center of learning in which Eugene enrolls. There, removed from the stifling elements of his youth, he grows enamored with the possibilities of his new life. His hunger for knowledge and intellectual growth make him open to learning from books and from life experience. He continues to develop his sharp eye for the peculiarities and inconsistencies of human nature. In a writing class, he becomes inspired and dreams of earning fame as a playwright. He believes that an answer to the loneliness and despair he has always been prey to might be found in a vast outpouring of language. He has begun to see his world expand, and he desires to engage an even larger world. Harvard and nearby Boston symbolize...
(The entire section is 625 words.)