“The city is like poetry: it compresses all life, all races, and breeds, into a small island and adds music and the accompaniment of internal engines. The island of Manhattan is without any doubt the greatest human concentrate on earth…” (Elwyn Brooks White and Roger Angell, Here is New York)
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With these passionate words, White wanted to express the idea o the NYC as the famous melting pot where one can encounter a person of any nationality, where people and cultures mix to create the incredible fusion and to make people of different origin, social position, and viewpoints find a common language.
The phenomenon of New York City is that it links strikingly different people. It seems as if the fate itself intruded on people’s lives in this fantastic place to make the extremes meet around every corner. Once described as the city of opportunity, New York makes cultures and traditions mix and merge, so that they could turn into an extraordinary cocktail, tasty and refreshing.
“It is to the nation what the white church spire is to the village – the visible symbol of aspiration and faith, the white plume saying that the way is up.” (Alexander Klein, The Empire City: A Treasury of New York)
These grateful words are a tribute to Manhattan, a great part of the great city. Once bought for a trifle of dollars, the isle which is the emblem of New York means much more to the New Yorkers than a foreigner might think. This part of the city is the façade, the gates to the heaven of New York City. The financial part of the city, Manhattan is the place where the cream of the society dwells, and this makes the prestigious part of NYC even more important for the state. This is the white church where all the travelers come to first. Manhattan is the heart of the state of New York and the entire United States. And the skyscrapers raising their heads high in the sky speak of the heavens are the symbol of the high hopes and dreams which people come to this place with.
“He hadn’t practiced for 1929 and New York City and a girl who would turn into a woman.” (Irwin Shaw, Short Stories, Five Decades)
Like the rest of the countries, the USA suffered because of the economical changes which were brought across the entire world. However, in contrast to the close community of the European countries, which could join their forces to climb out of the desperate situation, the USA had nothing else to do but to pull their forces together to stay afloat. Since the States are situated on a separate continent, it is always hard to maintain contact with the rest of the countries. As a result, the Great Depression which stroke in 1926 had a great impact on American society, shattering its dreams and bringing the hopes for a better future into ashes. The change which one could notice only returning to the America which he or she used to know was eye-splitting, the country broken and the people depressed.
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“She knew everybody, condescended to no one, devoured books that Darling had never heard of, walked along the streets of the city, excited, at home, soaking in all the million tides of New York without fear, with constant wonder.” (Irwin Shaw, Short Stories, Five Decades)
With these words, Shaw brings the readers to quite different ideas. He considers New York as a place which is always full of people, the place which is rather messy and where it is far too crowded. Shaw depicts New York from a point of view of a small-town dweller that has finally seen the big city and found it too loud.
However, there is no air of hostility in the city. The crowds which are pouring up and down the streets do not have the air of negligence towards the rest of the people, yet they are too busy running for their own business. Life in New York was described as a place where people are not the calm type of small-town inhabitants.
“Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity, but the settlers give it passion.” (Elwyn Brooks White and Roger Angell, Here is New York)
What White was trying to prove was the fact that the specific charm of New York City is all due to the people that inhabit it. Since the native dwellers of New York are mostly people of wealth, prosperity, and influence, they take the most important posts in city life and are its governors. They make the fundament of the city, providing financial support and making it influential and prosperous. Those who drop in on some special days in the city create the stir and the motion which the city is so famous for; half of the traffic jams in the roads of the Nig Apple are due to the commuters who have decided to see the magnificent city in its beauty. However, these are only the settlers who can add the spicy flavor to the life in the city and create an atmosphere of intriguing novelty and the wonders to come. They make NYC joyful and merry, which all the native dwellers of New York are probably thankful to them for.
“That’s a fallacy also because actually, they’re the most considerate.” (Kenneth T. Jackson, David S. Dunbar. Empire City: New York through the Centuries.)
Jackson has managed to do the impossible: gathering all books ever written about New York, he created the fairest and objective description of New York through the centuries. Making his point, he persuades the audience that the evidence gathered represents a complete history of the Big Apple. And, giving the most detailed picture of the city, he persuades that the writings which he has gathered make the history of the city look in a completely different and new way, despite what the critics might tell about the low credibility of some sources.
“But the faith that can be unsettled by the access of light and knowledge had better be unsettled.” (Henry Ward Beecher, Evolution and Religion)
The conflict between the faith and people’s craving for knowledge was started since the first man was created. After being exiled from heaven, possessing the knowledge, Adam and Eve brought the contagious virus of knowledge to their offspring. The state of affairs did not improve as time passed, for everyone knows the notorious example of Prometheus who suffered for bringing knowledge to people, not to mention Giordano Bruno who was burnt down for telling people the truth about the Universe. The church has always considered faith to be before knowledge, and though quite a great deal of time has passed, nothing has changed. The church still appeals to people’s faith, ignoring their craving for the light.
“That is religion – love that breeds truth, love that breed justice, love that breeds harmonies of intimacy and intercommunication, love that breeds duty, love that breeds conscience, love that carries in its hand the scepter of pain, not to destroy and to torment, but to teach and to save.” (Gail Kennedy, Evolution and Religion: the Conflict between Science and Theology in Modern America)
These lines speak of the harmony of a man’s inner world with the environment and with the life path of the given person. Quite a different point of view on the problem of religion in society, this approach suggests that religion should serve as a kind of philosophy that will be the basis for one’s life and development. The concept of religion is compared to love to every single part of this world, including people, animals, and every single living thing.
Since the idea of love is what underlies the concept of religion, the basic principles for people’s behavior and attitude towards each other and the world around must be based on the principle of love. With this emotion, one can live peacefully and become a decent member of society. Being also the grounds for people’s creativity and progress, love is what makes the world go round.