The Man with the Golden Arm (novel)

The Man With The Golden Arm (Novel)

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The Man with the Golden Arm (novel)

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The Man with the Golden Arm is a novel by Nelson Algren that details the trials and hardships of illicit card dealer "Frankie Machine", along with an assortment of colorful characters, on Chicago's Near Northwest Side. A veteran of World War II, Frankie struggles to stabilize his personal life while trying to make ends meet and fight a growing addiction to morphine. Much of the story takes place during the immediate postwar period along Division Street and Milwaukee Avenue in the old Polish Downtown.

Published by Doubleday in November 1949, this dark novel won the very first National Book Award in 1950. One of the seminal novels of post-World War II American letters, The Man with the Golden Arm is widely considered Algren's greatest and most enduring work.

Plot summary

The events of the novel take place between 1946 and 1948, primarily on the Near Northwest Side of Chicago. The title character is Francis Majcinek, known as "Frankie Machine", a young man who is a gifted card dealer and an amateur drummer. While serving in World War II, Frankie is treated for shrapnel in his liver and medicated with morphine. He develops an addiction to the drug, although initially in the story he believes he can control his habit.

Frankie lives in a small apartment on Division Street with his wife, Sophie (nicknamed "Zosh"). Sophie has been wheelchair-bound since a drunk-driving accident caused by Frankie (although the...
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