Close Reading Exercise

Written by Jerry Huang

Task One:

Lionel,

Loud, abrasive, thoughtful and hot-headed.

Friend of the voices in his head,

Lover of Brooklyn, food and the truth.

Who feels lonely, depressed and no self-esteem

And needs comfort, a connection and exposure to the world.

Who fears the police, the Clients and the unknown.

Who gives bad advice, no help and questionable facts

And would like to be loved, accepted and strong.

Resident of his own mind,

Esserog

Task Two:

Lionel’s return to Brooklyn from Maine, detailed in pages 304-311, covers the final chapter of the novel and deals with Lionel’s personal attempts at closure with Frank’s death and his attempt to move on from it. This part of the novel stands out quite heavily in the novel particularly because it shows a heavy indication that although he has come to accept Frank’s death, he has still failed to really change and move on from it, an important reason why this type of book should not be adapted into a screenplay. Instead of really having changed as a person, Lionel seems to have simply given up on the large majority of his life, living what appears to be a meaningless life. Lionel continues to think heavily about those involved in the entire incident, continuously dreaming of Frank and Tony. This demonstrates how he has failed to move on from it, as despite their relatively bad treatment of him over the years as well as the revelation that Frank was essentially just using the Minna Men for his own purposes does not change anything in his mind. In addition, Lionel continues to keep and wear Frank’s watch, which is an especially jarring thought, as Lionel has still not abandoned the idea of becoming Frank and figuratively keeping him with himself. His dialogue with the rest of the Minna Men and with Loomis in this scene appears to have not changed, and his tics remain  very present, suggesting that he remains quite self-conscious and maintains thoughts of depression within his mind. The last paragraph, in which he questions whether or not he may have fabricated the entire situation in his own mind, is further representation of the lack of change, as he still considers himself crazy in some way and is willing to accept that he will never be normal.

Task Three:

The above scene is similar to the one when Lionel first enters the L&L shop after Frank’s death. While this scene features more dialogue and less narration compared to the final chapter, what makes them similar is how Lionel tends to act with the rest of the Minna Men. Firstly, Lionel does seem to feel some unease about who takes control of power, Tony in this scene and Danny in the final chapter, although he is markedly less vocal about it in Danny’s Case. Another thing that is apparent about Lionel’s character is his obsession with Frank’s murder. In this scene, Lionel can’t get over the fact, thinking of the joke he was attempting to tell Minna in this case. In the final chapter, he still shows some subtle signs of never having moved on, the most apparent one being the fact that the imagines whether or not Ullman is a ghost or not. While Lionel does break the forth wall and tell the reader that he doesn’t care whether or not this is the case, the fact that this idea formed within Lionel’s mind is an indication that he continues to think about Frank’s case, although the difference is that he will not act on any of his ideas, but simply let them dissipate themselves and forget about them. While this is some progress, it still shows that Frank’s death continues to haunt him in some way, the main difference being that in this case he is no longer as emotionally invested in learning the truth as he was throughout the rest of the novel.

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