Camille Gaudreau

Hi guys ! Many teachers ask you tricky questions about the themes. They have always been the hardest for me to answer, so here are some themes you might want to look into.

– Camille


Hard work is really demonstrated when Larry goes to work in the coal mine. We get to see the other workers in the mine and the kind of life they are living. They live on a small village based on the industry, so all their life is based upon the mine. The only things men do are working, playing cards and drinking. It is really different from the type of job people have in Chicago. It is quite ironic, because Larry did not want to go back to Chicago only to have a boring job in order to earn money, but he decides to have a job that people only take when they have no other option.


The downfall of the elite is foreshadowed by Kosti. He was at first part of the upper-class when he was in the army, but he was accused of betrayal because he planned on killing the general in the Polish war. After that, he could not stay in Poland, so he had no option but to get a job in the mine. His past might explain why he has a drinking problem. He probably wants to forget the poor lifestyle he is inflicted, especially if it is compared to what he used to know. The bigger downfall is then demonstrated with the economic crash of October 1929, when the New York market broke. Kosti’s downfall foreshadows the economic downfall of New York’s market.


This theme is very well depicted in the relationship between Kosti and Larry. They are complete strangers and they have to work in poor conditions, but they end up being very good friends. Kosti is the only one whom Larry could share his daily life with. He could not talk about it to his old friends, because they would not understand as well as Kosti does. They spend all their free time together since they have nothing else to do and since they do not get out of the village while they work in the mine. Their strong bonding is particularly demonstrated in page 108, when a farmer accepts to give a job to Kosti, but not to Larry. Kosti refuses his offer in these conditions because he does not want to be separated from Larry. Most people would have accepted it, knowing that they had been looking for a job for days, but he does not want to give up on Larry, even if it means not having a job for an undetermined time.


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