Bud Korpenning in Manhattan Transfer

Topics: New York City, Brooklyn Bridge, Death Pages: 7 (3014 words) Published: January 22, 2011
Commentary n°4= ''The rain had stopped...on a man's wedding day'' p.118-120 section 1 Chapter 5

The extract corresponds to the final pages of the first section,chapter 5 entitled Steamroller. It deals with the character of Bud Korpenning that we already met on the opening pages of chapter 1 ferryslip ,and that we find again in the first section's closure. Previously in the chapter, we learned that Bud sleeps on a cot surrounded by other men.The place appears to be a homeless shelter.But he is restless and unable to sleep. So he engages in conversation with a bum. He tells him the story about why he left home. His father whipped him regularly with a light chain until Bud ran away at thirteen. He is now twenty-five. Before he ran away from upstate, he killed his father and took ten dollars from a large roll of bills and then set off to the big city to never be found.The bum expresses interest in going back upstate and taking back the large roll of bills. Bud makes a deal with him and leaves the shelter to eat, following the advice of the bum worried about him. After eating, he walks to the Brooklyn Bridge, but haunted by men in derbies , he jumps off the bridge with the last fantasy about being a rich city alderman. Finally, the captain McAvoy of the tugboat Prudence witnesses the incident and Bud's body is fished out from the water. We can ask ourselves what are the circumstances that led Bud to commit a suicide and what it foreshadowed for the rest of the novel. What this extract displays is Bud's despair in this destructive city.Through this extract we are going to discover his attitude and the atmosphere before he commits a suicide as an innocent victim of the city.

I.Bud's despair
a) His attitude
Following the advice of the bum who is worried about his situation,Bud goes for a walk and spending his last dollars into a good meal ''in the lunchroom in Chatham Square'' on l.3. On l.5 , he is ''waited long for his order'',''he felt cool, unthinking, happy'' is contradictory because as he is waiting long we don't expect such a reaction. As he is eating his meal, he has got some excessive reactions such as ''deliberately enjoying every mouthful'',''heavily sugared coffee'',''polishing the plate'' which can show some signs of his madness.Through the third-person omniscient point of view, the author can look through Bud's eyes and enter Bud's mind.He clearly envoys his last lunch of his life taking every pleasure of it which conveys the idea that something tragic would happen.We have perceptions during a particular climactic point in Bud's life.There are other signs of his madness as he left the lunchroom and goes to the Brooklyn Bridge.He begins to see ''men in a derby'' everywhere on his way on l.12, ''a single policeman'' on l.15 and from l.29 to 34.He is becoming paranoiac and crazy as seeing every man from different backgrounds as detectives, people that he could have met in Manhattan.His reaction is intensified as the word ''detectives''appears several times. From the moment he arrives in the city,it illustrates him gradually losing trust on human beings. After having confessing the murder to the bum, he even suspects him on l.32-34. He is a character adrift, totally lost as ''he don't care bout him,let him follow me''on l.14 and the alliterative sentence ''Dont matter where I go, cant go nowhere now'' on l.25. He is full of regrets and haunted by his past, the murder of his father.He is plotting his own death and nothing around him matters.As he comes to understand the city's devious ways as the bum only interest in finding ''the ole man's roll'',Bud becomes cynic. On the very last moment of his life, he starts dreaming of success and of his ideal marriage as in fairy tale that he would have with his girlfriend Maria Sickett with a long descriptive sentence (no full stops). There is an evocation of material wealth. It shows once more excess in his hopes and imagination appears to be the only place...
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