Man with the Golden Arm

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Novel by Nelson Algren, published in 1949.

Francis Majcinek, called Frankie Machine, comes back to Chicago's Polish community from World War II with a Purple Heart and a morphine habit. In the seedy setting of Division Street he is a dealer in a poker parlor, and is known as the “Man with the Golden Arm,” because of both his rapid reflexes and his drug addiction. His wife Sophia, called Zosh, has been crippled in an auto accident caused by Frankie's drunken driving and spends her dreary days making him feel guilty. In Molly Novotny, a sweet 20-year-old part-time prostitute, Frankie finds love and solace, but he remains trapped in his marriage and morphine habit. He accidentally breaks the neck of his drug supplier, Nifty Louie Fomorowski, and next gets caught committing a robbery with his friend Solly Saltskin, variously called “The Punk” or “The Sparrow.” After serving a brief prison term for the latter offense he returns to his old haunts and to Molly, but when about to be arrested for the killing, he hangs himself just before the police arrive.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

Nelson Algren (1909—1981) American novelist

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