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McPhee’s Essay of “The Search for Marvin Gardens” Analysis

McPhee’s essay The Search for Marvin Gardens has a unique structure as it is divided into parts that describe the Monopoly game and the real world. The author alternates these themes making a reader unconsciously connect them and seek similarities in how the game is built and how life in the United States was structured. This structure is chosen to emphasize that while businesses buy hotels, railroads and generate millions of dollars, problems of the citizens, such as poverty, segregation, and crime still unsolved. Moreover, the first-person narration makes readers feel they participate in all the vividly described struggles, such as the scenes in the jail.

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The “Quick Kill” is a Monopoly’s method to speed up the game by setting limits, removing the jail option, or make conditions where the players must spend more money quickly. McPhee mentions this strategy while initially describing the opponent’s manner of playing and then calls the people who invested in Atlantic City’s railroads and other infrastructure development “the masters of a quick kill.” As readers perceive the term through the Monopoly’s rules, they understand that the author considers the city’s establishment an approach to earning quickly regardless of the consequences. After “Quick Kill” is integrated into both sections, the essay’s structure becomes more understandable and reasonable.

Marvin Gardens is a destination in Monopoly and real Atlantic City as an outer suburb, and McPhee describes it as a better area. Seeking for it in the game means gaining additional property with no harm, and in real life, finding it means going out of the city’s despair. Marvin Gardens links the two sections to signify a way out of the endless attempts to get richer and escape real-life struggles.

In the Atlantic City, McPhee is searching for Marvin Gardens and asks people who he thought might know the directions. The author describes the despair conditions of the area by mentioning unemployment, people in dirty clothes, and how they spend their days. Indeed, McPhee asks a postman drinking beer in the morning and a poorly worn woman about the Gardens, and none knows where it is. The author even asks the bronze statue of Monopoly’s inventor, C. B. Darrow, and receives no answer. Poor people do not know the location, and the memorial keeps silent because Marvin Gardens is a place out of Atlantic City’s environment.

McPhee’s essay implies how Monopoly is dangerously similar to the real-life, and the business operations of the rich severely affect the others. The parts about the game have nothing about the citizens’ conditions, yet the reality parts are full of individuals’ struggles and experiences. The author argues that both ordinary people and businessmen refuse to seek the Marvin Gardens. Instead, they lose lives in dealing with struggles or getting as much profit as possible.

Finding Marvin Gardens is a logical ending of McPhee’s essay because it reveals that peace and happiness are lost in the Monopoly-like reality system. The author discloses that the Gardens is a wealthy, peaceful area outside the Atlantic City in the game and life. Reaching there is almost impossible for the average citizen or a businessman busy selling and earning, therefore they do not know the directions. It was difficult for McPhee to find Marvin Gardens because he was trapped inside the game’s rules and life’s struggles. The motive of seeking a particular place in Monopoly where the steps depend on the regulations and points addresses how modern society loses the intention to pursue true happiness.

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