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Noah Watkins

ENG 378

Prof. Bill Savage

4 April, 2017

Word Count: 294

Response to Chicago Stories

To me, the most thought provoking feature of James T. Farrells Chicago Stories is their

focus on connection and the pride associated with it. In a very literal way, the idea of having a

girl comes up again and again. In Looking Em Over, for example, women are very much seen

through a male gaze, as thy are viewed from the eyes of Don Bryan a young man in the very

early twenties (22). They are cast almost entirely as sexual objects as they are subject to the

catcalls of Don and his compatriots. And while Helen, I Love You is considerably more

innocent, there is still a definitive desire of the part of Dan to have some sort of ownership over

Helen. In his vision of what the world would look like if he fought Dick and won, Helen runs

over to him and exclaims Dan, I want to be your girl! (7) In this case, your is just as much a

mark of ownership as it is of companionship.

Romantic connections, however, are not the only ones featured; in The Fastest Runner

on Sixty-first Street, Morty and Tony have a symbiotic relationship that defies easy explanation.

While it is simple to say that Morty needs Tony for protection and Tony needs Morty for

companionship, the actual complexities of their relationship are not as easily categorized. Even

trivial relationships, such as Jims boastful comment about his connection to Father Shannon in

All Things Are Nothing to Me as if he could take credit for the priests abilities (89). It will
be interesting to trace this thread throughout the rest of the class, as Chicago is very much a city

where it matters who you know and the strength of your connection to them.