Essay on Analysis Of ' Open City '

Essay on Analysis Of ' Open City '

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Teju Cole’s debut novel, Open City, depicts Julius’s peripatetic journeys in New York City, as well as abroad, whilst reflecting their connotations to his past. Cole utilizes his main character’s driving narration to explore urbanization and urbanism (2011). To distinguish, urbanization refers to the growth in population within city areas, and the way in which societies adapt from rural to urban areas, opposed to urbanism which defines the features of social interactions within these areas (Pugh, 1966).
Firstly, the importance of narration is emphasized through its introduction in the novel: “And so” Julius begins his trail of thought, “I began to go on evening walks last fall,” continuing that [he] “found Morningside Heights an easy place” from which to start his journey (2011:1). His mid-sentence narrative orchestrates Julius’s personal reflection. It also removes him as a mere character, causing him to become a flâneur. Charles Baudelaire (1964) defined a flâneur as an “urban explorer” who enables one to portray and understand the city. Similarly, Julius depicts his surroundings and interaction, but remains a detached observer. Through his isolation the complexities of modern cities, the formulation of new social approaches and, finally, urbanism, become topics for discussion.
These complexities, as well as urban developments, of modern cities is portrayed through Julius’s walks along the streets of Manhattan. The first example for interpretation is when Julius, avoiding crowds from the New York City marathon, escapes to the Time Warner towers. Instead, after finding it equally as busy, he visits his former professor who lives nearby (Cole, 2011, 8). Already, the complexity of city spaces is established, through its represe...


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... from different cultures. For this reason Cole set his novel in New York City, which has become synonymous with a variety of cultures. People from different cultures within the urban setting do not only portray urbanization, because of their growth in popularity, but also urbanisation, because of the new social approaches that exist as a result of their presence (2011).
In conclusion, Open City portrays Julius’s journeys in New York City, and reflects on his past. Through his narration and the position of the flâneur that he becomes, it is possible to explore urbanization and urbanism with modern cities, such as New York. Through evaluating Julius’s narrative, it became apparent that it was not only the different spaces that he visited, but also the different people that he met, that played an important role in understanding City spaces and their constant changes.

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