Because of this minimizing environment, most denizens of The Neon Wilderness are crippled, flawed, or otherwise diminished, sometimes only emotionally, but usually physically as well. Presented frequently as beaten or crouching, they lack some human capacity for feeling or intimacy. The system offers essentially two means of escape, either through the victimization of others or victimization of the self, expressed in the motifs of physical abuse-the beaten women and the prize fighters, or addiction to liquor, drugs, or lies.
Set against this image of maimed and crippled humanity, however, is the human capacity for love and for pride.
The halfbreed prizefighter Baby overcomes his drinking and even recovers a sense of self-worth, momentarily, as a result of his marriage to Wilma.
Rocco resists offers to take a dive, no matter how badly he gets beaten. Banty Langobardi is allowed to retain his manhood even after losing...