Literary Precedents for Billy Bathgate

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The best known literary precedent is no doubt Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884). Cited in a famous remark by Ernest Hemingway as a major source for "all American literature," Twain's classic account of a young boy who must reckon with the moral problems of an adult world is certainly an important model for Doctorow. Billy follows in the footsteps of Huck Finn as a young witness to scenes of wrongdoing, violence, and death. There is even a pastoral interlude when Billy must pose as a respectable boy who attends Sunday School in a small upstate New York town. His adventures in the tradition of Huck Finn typically mirror the deceit and hypocrisy of the adult community.

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This section contains 119 words
(approx. 1 page at 300 words per page)
Buy the Billy Bathgate Short Guide
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Billy Bathgate from Gale. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.