Crime has been a social challenge in the societies since time in sundry. The consequences of criminal activities threaten the social fabric. In the Novel, “The Girl in the Glass,” Thomas Schell is very deceptive and cunning. He is ready to hide in spiritually to evade the authority and fleece his unsuspecting clients.
Though appearing as a law abiding citizen in the city of New York, Thomas Schell and his loyal assistant are more than willing to go to any length in their deceptive business under dealings. Basically, crime is “an act of omission punishable by law” (Baskin 2). Despite the presence of authority and marauding nature of the characters, the plot of the discussion of the social norms and their breakdown as responsible for the crimes committed.
It is imperative to analyse criminal activities in the novel, “The Girl in the Glass,” as related to the breakdown in social control within the city of New York in order to relate the activities of Thomas Schell to the nature of this society. The focus of this analysis is on criminogenic conditions that motivated Thomas Schell in his deceptive acts in relation the similar actions of Tickle and Tim in the Discovery Channel television series called the Moonshiners. Basically, the discussion is based on breakdown of social control as a catalyst of criminal activities.
Thomas Schell is motivated by several factors in his deceptive lifestyle. Alongside his loyal assistant, Thomas is interested in taking advantage of the depression in the city to maximize personal gains. In his interaction with one of the clients, Thomas state that “I can certainly conceive of you doing something else. You don’t want to remain Ondoo for the rest of your days now do you? This repatriation business will blow over eventually” (Ford 25). Basically, Thomas uses this line to inspire one of the clients into gaining confidence that he is a professional.
The engine that ignites an unending desire to fulfil social satisfaction is basically love, unity in family, and self consciousness that respect the traditions but give justice. These informal social control models are the motivation to acquire, bond, comprehend, and defend without putting strains in the family bond.
Therefore, a proactive informal control system should function within a structured justice system. When the system functions within accepted parameters, the parties involved will eventually develop a self consciousness to defend the informal social controls as part of the criminal mind and behaviour.
For instance, Thomas argues that “it isn’t a perfect being that brought all of this about…It’s all chance and tiny mistakes that give an advantage, which are compounded over time…all a result of some infinitesimal , advantageous mistake in the makeup of a single caterpillar” (Ford 25).
This is a clear indication that Thomas Schell has a weak social control system operating around him. Therefore, criminal activity has become part of his upbringing and form of social acceptance within their subculture. The same is seen in the lives of Tickle and Tim in the Moonshiners who have inherited the illicit trade from their grandparents.
Deception has been used as tool for covering up illegal activities which are against the tenets of social control. Informal control is important in fostering a proactive communal coexistence. Reflectively, the process consists of a structured human control system that incorporates all the aspects of human living.
For instance, Baskin (2006) in the novel fiction, Theft: A Love Story, argues that theories emphasizing informal social controls on family issues such as dual-income families, blended families, and extended families operate simultaneously to uphold social control, mitigate and deter crime, and sanction law breakers with rehabilitation and criminal penalties within the confines of the unwritten laws (Baskin 13).
The self regulating society offers a facilitated explanation for common support on imbalances as a fundamental ruler of perception on doctrines of its members. The informal social control theories are consistent in exploring possible reasons behind specific antagonist and protagonist inclination of different issues causing conflicts with the criminal justice system such as the coning and hording.
In order to falsely fit in the social control system, Thomas is ready to break the law. For instant, he says that “don’t worry, we’ll think something…I’m hitting the sack…do me a favour and get rid of this crap so I don’t get in trouble” (Ford 23). The need to stay in control motivates Thomas to adopt this strategy of self defence and reassurance in deception.
Thomas Schell seems to have been introduced in the illegal coning business at a very tender age and have grown to believe that its part and parcel of his life. Despite his full knowledge of the institutional operations within the city of New York, he has devised ways of evading the criminogenic conditions.
In one of his sarcastic rhetoric, Thomas claim that “preliminary ethereal sensations have led me to believe you seek contact with a woman who has passed over…as I was saying, your wife, of course, is sorely missed, but I knew it must be your mother to who you wish to speak” (Ford 27).
The criminogenic system comprises of the jurisdictional, normative, functional, and institutional components. The components do not work simultaneously in defining the goals of procedural laws in the event of breaching the unwritten rules. Factually, these activities take place at different points (Rowntree, par. 11).
Depending on the category, each crime is defined by the federal and criminal law, severity and magnitude of punishment is determined by various courts. In the criminal code, the process of convicting a suspected offender commences with the report of the investigation from the policing unit presented before the district court.
Generally, activities involved in the trial system include definition of the crime, identification of laws broken, and definition of appropriate punishment as supported by the law. In the case of the Thomas Schell, the concept has been twisted to accommodate his greed and need to expand his household, even if spirituality becomes part and parcel of the hustle.
Although parole and probation are community correction strategies which functioning on the concept of community supervision, they are different in many aspects in relation to the novel. Despite these differences, the strategies were initiated to mitigate the magnitude and severity of the punishment process.
This trend is similar to modern probation which considers age, character, among other factors which directly impact the course of justice (Rowntree, par. 9). Under this arrangement credit marks are awarded for behaviour change, and release from detaining heavily relies on the cumulative score per offender (“Big Drop in Crime Is a Sign of Shift In Society, Say Experts”, par. 7).
Moreover, the introduction of public relations training has enacted reforms in reactive approach of policing and embraced information based and problem oriented response. Interestingly, in his endeavour to stay in control, Thomas wonders loudly that “imagine…a captain of industry, a financial powerhouse, and what he wants most in life is his mother.
I’d be touched if I went in for such things, but on a purely analytical level, it’s instructive” (Ford 29). Although Thomas Schell and Anthony Cleopatra were able to transform and evade the law enforcement strategies, intelligence policing and commitment ensured that their illegal activities were stopped by the community they had fleeced.
This literary work by Ford is a reflection of what is happening in the society. The author has voiced his opinion about issues affecting the society through various themes. These themes are closely linked together through analysis of actions of Thomas Schell. In the contemporary society, introduction of literature research has extensively increased the volume of literature in every topic of interest, especially in use of expression tools such as metaphors to present a symbolic view that a character displays.
Although pretending to be a citizen of high moral authority, the author has revealed the deceptive nature of Thomas Schell and how this behaviour is related to weak social control. Interestingly, the same is applicable in the Moonshiner series where Tickle and Tim use deception to evade law and commit crimes (“Moonshiners” episode 3).
Tim and Tickle are actually cousins have were introduced in the illegal binge business by their grandfathers in the deep mountain sides as a means of climbing the economic ladder. The duo is motivated by the quick returns and tax evasion to go to unimaginable levels when manufacturing the illegal liquor. Surprisingly, despite the fact that the law enforcement authority is always on their track, the duo is able to evade them through metamorphosis of their criminal manoeuvres.
In one incident, in episode 7 of the Moonshiner series, Tickel and Tim are ready to hide in the river and inhabited caves to continue with the production despite the eminent threat from an approaching Tornado. These crimes are related to the breakdown in social control as a result of the selfish interest to overcome poverty and rise in the economic social class, irrespective of the unethical manoeuvres in the process.
The actions of the duo, Thomas Schell and Anthony Cleopatra, in the Girl in the Glass and Tickle and Tim in Moonshiner are but symptoms of social breakdown. These characters are aware of the illegalities in their actions but use selfishness to justify their criminal activities. This is in line with the lack of positive conscience to conform to the societal norm. There are several arguments that have been fronted to try to explain the metamorphosis in crime.
According to Regina Dalton of The Vancouver Sun, “no parents saying ‘you can’t,’ no religion saying ‘thou shall not,’ no factory shaming you into correct behaviour, is a breeding ground for crime”(Dalton par. 5). On the other hand, Seebohn Rowntree’s report in London’s Daily Mail states, “Identifying such causes involves making judgments about how people behave…one of the most fundamental drivers of all these problems is family breakdown” (Rowntree, par. 7).
These arguments share common understanding of crime as a symptom of breakdown in the social values and structures of the society, irrespective of the factors motivating an individual to be involved in criminal activities. For instance, Thomas Schell and his accomplice are motivated by the need to take advantage of the economic meltdown to fleece the rich in New York society. On the other hand, in the Moonshiner series Tickle and Tim are motivated by the quick returns and tax evasion in the illegal liquor trade.
Baskin, Barbara. “Theft: A Love Story.” Literature Resource Center 15 Dec. 2006: 58.
“Big Drop in Crime Is a Sign of Shift In Society, Say Experts.” The Independent Oct. 26, 2001. Print.
Dalton, Regina. “Countries Where Religion Not Prevalent are a Breeding Ground for Crime.” The Vancouver Sun Feb. 1, 1993, Print.
Ford, Jeffrey. The Girl in the Glass. New York: Harpercollins, 2005. Print.
“Moonshiners.” Moonshiner series, New York, 29 Sep. 2012. Television.
Rowntree, Seebohm. “The Great Poverty Myth; Drinking, Fecklessness, Gambling … the social evils that blight society haven’t changed much in a century. This week a report blamed the wealth gap between rich and poor. But there’s a much more insidious cause.” The Daily Mail, 2007: 13. Print.