Young Lonigan: A Boyhood in Chicago Streets

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Novel by James T. Farrell, published in 1932. This naturalistic study of the mind of a 15-year-old boy, utilizing a stream-of-consciousness technique, is the first part of the Studs Lonigan trilogy, which includes The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan and Judgment Day.

The son of a lower-class Catholic family, William Lonigan, nicknamed Studs, is depicted in the common experiences of a boyhood on the South Side of Chicago. He smokes secretly, plays baseball and basketball, experiments with sex, fights, swims, enjoys his first familiarity with the older toughs he admires, and participates in Jewbaiting, shoplifting, and other activities of the youthful gang. Lucy Scanlan, a girl of his own age, provides his first romantic affair; he has a comradely friendship with the tomboy Helen Shires; and shares with other boys the attentions of Iris, a 14-year-old exponent of “free love.” Other characters include Studs's father and mother; his sister Frances; the priest, Father Gilhooley; Leon, a middleaged homosexual; Davey Cohen, who deserts the gang when Iris refuses him because he is a Jew; and such intimates of Studs as “Weary” Reilley, Paulie Haggerty, and Kenny Killarney. The boy is shown throughout to have healthy impulses and attitudes, but these are perverted by his environment and partially repressed in order that he may display the hard, unsentimental exterior prevalent among his fellows.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

J. T. Farrell (1904—1979) American novelist

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