Monday, February 25, 2008


Jake Jackson may not always make the most beneficial decisions, he may be quick to anger and irresponsible with money, but his actions are very much a product of the environment in which his character is set. The Depression age Chicago that Jake inhabits is a miasma of traps and swindles for an unwitting fool such as Jake, and a world where even a man’s dreams are no escape from brutal reality, even becoming prey for money hungry crooks.
The novel opens with a clear indication that dreams are no escape for a man like Jake. In his nightmare, Jake runs continually up a flight of stairs and never gets any further ahead. As the novel progresses, we see this dream as a symbol for Jakes constant condition in life. Through his own laziness or the oppression of the powers that be, Jake can never seem to make any solid, positive progress forward. Out on his morning walk before work, this dream comes into play a second time at the game of “policy.” This lewd lottery preys on the dreams of those willing to gambol and serves to highlight Wright’s theme that, in a world such as this, dreams can be just as dangerous as reality. By playing the numbers that correspond to various elements in his dream, Jake looses the only money he has in his pocket and is plunged deeper into the black pit by his own dreams
As Jake and his friends slip into lascivious revelry at Rose’s club, the lights in the club are “lowered just enough to give the room a dreamlike air” (198). By describing this scene in this way, Wright colors the debauchery of the night along with the misfortunes that befall Jake inside the club as a dream, or really rather a nightmare from which Jake is just as unable to escape as one is from a dream while asleep. Although Jake came to the club by his own poor judgment, the events that happen inside are no more in his own control than the numbers that come up at policy. Once again, Jake becomes a victim of the wicked world where not even dreams can be counted on to provide comfort and escape.

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