The Bonfire of the Vanities Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. What is the Mayor's principle fear during his town hall in the Prologue?

The Mayor fears that the press coverage of the unruly town hall will mar his public image. The largely black and Hispanic audience heckles him for not caring about their community and, eventually, for simply being Jewish. He believes the coverage will make it appear that that he is only the Mayor of "White New York," and he will be unable to carry places like the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Harlem in the coming election.

2. Describe Maria Ruskin.

Maria Ruskin is a beautiful Southern girl living in New York City. She is married to an elderly industrialist who keeps her in the latest fashion. She sublets a townhouse in Manhattan where she meets Sherman McCoy for liaisons. Sherman loves her thick Tennessee accent but thinks she looks more Greek or Italian than Southern.

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