Critical Essay

Essay by laurenjacaCollege, UndergraduateA-, November 2014

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Jaca 1

Lauren Jaca

Professor Redmon


April 29, 2014

A New Identity

Ask the Dust written by John Fante in 1939 is about an urban tragedy set in Los Angeles in the height of the depression. Bandini, a young writer, has moved to LA with $150 in his pocket and big plans in his head. Bandini endures both poverty and hardship, struggling to survive on his writing. Eventually, he is sucked in a strange love-hate relationship with a waitress, Camilla Lopez, who runs deluded into the desert never to return as Bandini finally publishes his first book.

Bandini is a young man, who has had a rough childhood, eventually escaping to Los Angeles. When Bandini leaves for Los Angeles, his idealism shows itself in how he perceives himself in his more arrogant moments; a young genius, a new and exciting man experiencing what he does to better his work.

Bandini in the novel has big dreams; imaging his work will be 'in the library with the big boys on the shelves, old Dreiser, old Mencken, all the boys down there.'

Fante has given Bandini a mix of conflicting ideas. In an escape to find happiness, Bandini is driven by a resentment spawned from his race and his creed. He truly isn't able to forge a new identity in Los Angeles. Although Bandini has moved to a new place, and is starting over, doesn't mean that he can change who he was born to be, he will be that same person his entire life.

Bandini therefore displays a fiery, almost pathological, determination to make it big as a writer. He is explosive and reactionary. His dream of recognition as a writer, and the fame, wealth, and of course, women who will fall for him as a writer.