The Prison – Bernard Malamud
Twenty nine year old Tommy Castelli, who was Tony as a boy is now a man who is defeated in life, his main aim in life was to get out of the slum he grew up in. Life does not work that way for him and he ends up trapped in an unfulfilling way of life. A 10 year old girl is caught by him stealing from his shop and then he decides to save her life by showing her the right way so that she does not end up having a futile and banal life like his own. He makes a few attempts to do so, but in vain. The story depicts a monotonous life of a decent defeated man that has created it to be so because of his past mistakes, moral significance is brought into his otherwise insignificant life by the girl. Tommy’s failure of a man is pitted against the muted background of shadowy characters and vague memories Plot :
The story revolves around Tommy Castelli’s life. Tommy is a decent person but his life is colorless and drab because he is trapped in a job which he was forced to do and married to a woman who he did not feel for. He is trapped in his current way of living solely because of his old mistakes. He feels incarcerated because he leads a monotonous life, where he runs a candy store, given to him by his in-laws. He worked from eight in the morning till midnight, six days a week. He catches a ten year old girl stealing from his store on a Monday and suddenly this adds meaning to his life. Tommy sees a part of himself in the girl as he watches her steal. He knows that the mistakes of his life, in his youth have led him to such a dead-end situation which was unlikely to change. This brings about a moral dimension in Tommy’s life, he feels the urge to help the girl get out of this perilous situation. He sets up indirect hints for her to notice and when he fails, he writes her a note on cardboard paper, inside the candy bar she usually steals. His plan fails, yet again.
The story is set in the candy shop that Tommy...
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