Ask the Dust Timemap

Group members: Delaney Raupp, Alexandra Nguyen, Everett Barton, Ryan Mardon

Our group focused on places where Arturo Bandini felt his best and worst in Los Angeles. The viewer learns how Bandini comes to LA hoping to be a success and charmed by the city. That’s what boosterism of the past sold: bright lights and dreams. Yet, the reality turned out to be quite different. John Fante’s Ask the Dust and the maps show how the noir of the time. There’s darkness and despair, which contrast the aspirations of those who enter the city. Fante highlights class, ethnicity, and social mobility as hinderances to prosperity, similar to what many immigrants felt during the 1930s in LA. Bandini is a symbol of these hardships. He is working-poor and essentially invisible. He wants to be taken seriously as a writer, but no one gives him a second look. Bandini is Italian-American and has his own immigrant struggle to rise above his familial circumstances and be different. Yet, he judges other ethnicities like the Mexican. Bandini calls him a Spick and Greaser. Bandini’s othering and subordination is symbolic of the racism of the time towards minorities. Even when Bandini has his works published, his social mobility is still stagnant. The Little Dog Laughed and The Long Lost Hills do little for his position and prestige. The LA myth said that people could be part of the beauty and glamour if they worked hard enough. Bandini shows that the myth was an imagination. The reality was the opposite of beauty and glamour and hard work rarely provided the success that was promised.

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