Manhattan Transfer Themes

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The narrative that frames the first section of Manhattan Transfer both concretizes and confuses the alienation theme, the motif central to the novel, and Dos Passos's indictment of industrial America. The reader first encounters the story of Bud Korpenning's entering the city with high expectations. So, expecting the organization of a traditional plot, the reader anticipates that Bud's story will be the center of narrative interest, but it actually constitutes only a small fraction of the first section. Quickly Dos Passos directs us to other sketches. In a larger sense, however, Bud's story provides a nucleus of meaning for the rest of the novel. It is simultaneously a frame device, a thematic microcosm, and a representative example of confusion between satiric and individual character development in the novel as whole.

Enacting what is nearly a cultural archetype, Bud wants to relocate from rural New York to the city, in...

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This section contains 1,846 words
(approx. 5 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Manhattan Transfer Study Guide
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