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John McPhee's In Search of Marvin Gardens

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John McPhee's In Search of Marvin Gardens

Im his essay In Search of Marvin Gardens, John McPhee examines Atlantic City, New Jersey, the city upon which the board game of Monopoly was based. In his writing, he touches upon both the board game and the physical city equally which begs the reader to ponder the purpose of McPhee’s essay. Did he write his essay to provide for the reader the physical basis for the game of Monopoly? Or did McPhee wish to expose the once glamorous AtlanticCity as a city in its present near-squalor state? As nothing is withoutpurpose, so to must this essay strive to convey something to its readers. It is the purpose of this critique to analyze McPhee’s In Search of MarvinGardens in order to uncover the true purpose behind his writing.Through narrative analysis processes, the true meaning of McPhee’s will be uncovered.

McPhee begins his essay with the description of a turn in Monopoly. He then quickly movesto a description of a street (specifically Vermont Avenue) from the actualcity of Atlantic City. He continues in this fashion throughout the essay.As he moves from property to property in his game, he moves descriptivelyfrom street to street and from sector to sector in Atlantic City. McPheebrings in a bit of history as describes each "property" for the reader.From Anthony J. Drexel Biddle and the Brighton Hotel to changes that havetaken place concerningthe type of criminals held in the prison, McPheeoffers us a now and thencomparison throughout and all the while continuinghis game of Monopoly.

In order to analyze the essay and answer the question, a systematic analytic approach mustbeset forth. In the case of a narrative analytic approach, there are twomainsteps. First, the piece ...

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... been about theMonopoly, the narrator’s style may have been one similarto a play-by-playsports cast or one more or excitement.

The final, and mostimportant, literary aspect is that of temporal relations. McPhee uses thisaspect todraw comparisons between the former state of Atlantic City andthe presentstate of the area. The historical facts and stories have basicallyno relevanceto the game of Monopoly and serve only to enhance the overallpurpose of theessay which is that of the city. Although the story CharlesDarrow does providesome history of the game of Monopoly, in the end thishistorical fact is usedto support the contrast between the old and presentcity. In the old city,a simple plumber like Darrow had a chance to oneday have his bust in frontof the bank. In today’s Atlantic city, however,the people carry a senseof hopelessness in that this is not possible.
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