Everything you need to understand or teach Billy Bathgate by E. L. Doctorow.
Doctorow again examines the meaning of success in America; if the leaders of American finance and industry were presented as caricatures of success in Ragtime (1975), another parody of the American Dream is featured in Billy Bathgate. The plot follows a young boy from rags to riches, but in this contemporary version of the Horatio Alger hero, the hero rises in the world as an apprentice to the notorious gangster, Dutch Schultz. The young hero in Doctorow's novel is as resourceful as any boy in Alger's fiction, but his enterprise is the business of the Mafia: rackets, vengeance, and murder. The story takes place in the New York underworld of the 1930s, and the title character is the reader's guide into this heart of darkness. His progressive initiation into horror is rendered by Doctorow as a bold and trenchant parody of the familiar American success story.
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