Unlike these early plays, which many later critics dismissed as propaganda pieces, Golden Boy focused more on personal issues. Odets has stated in interviews that he wrote the play as a deliberate attempt to create a hit. The play was written after Odets returned from a screenwriting job in Hollywood, a position that drew criticism from those who had pinned their hopes on Odets as a social reformer. While Odets was torn between Hollywood and the New York theatre scene, Joe is torn between the high-pressure, big-money business of boxing and his dream of becoming a violinist. Although Joe receives advice from his father, a lovable Italian man, the strongest influences in the play turn out to be his managers as well as Lorna, the girlfriend of one of his managers—with whom he falls in love.
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Unlike these early plays, which many later critics dismissed as propaganda pieces, Golden Boy focused more on personal issues. Odets has stated in interviews that he wrote the play as a deliberate attempt to create a hit. The play was written after Odets returned from a screenwriting job in Hollywood, a position that drew criticism from those who had pinned their hopes on Odets as a social reformer.
While Odets was torn between Hollywood and the New York theatre scene, Joe is torn between the high-pressure, big-money business of boxing and his dream of becoming a violinist. Although Joe receives advice from his father, a lovable Italian man, the strongest influences in the play turn out to be his managers as well as Lorna, the girlfriend of one of his managers—with whom he falls in love. Golden Boy spawned a movie and a musical, both of which combined with the play to make a lasting impression.
When Odets quit high school in to pursue poetry and then acting, his father was infuriated. However, he eventually gave his permission for Odets to try to be an actor. During the next seven years, Odets acted in a number of roles, but was not very successful, although in he was hired as an understudy for Spencer Tracy in Warren F. In , Odets briefly joined the American Communist Party , although he left eight months later. The play, which used the New York City cab strike as its setting, advocated striking and its passion quickly won over critics and audiences, which made Odets a star overnight.
However, after his next two plays, Till the Day I Die and Paradise Lost both produced in , failed to generate the same kind of success, Odets accepted a job as a screenwriter in Hollywood. Although he has publicly stated that this decision was a move to make more money to support the Group Theatre, it was viewed by many as a desertion from the social cause.
Following Golden Boy, Odets wrote several more plays, most of which were not successful. Odets died on August 14, , in Los Angeles. Moody fights with his girlfriend, Lorna Moon, over the fact that Moody has not yet divorced his wife and married Lorna.
A boy comes in and tells Moody that his fighter, Mr. Kaplan, has broken his hand and cannot fight his opponent, the Baltimore Chocolate Drop, that night. The boy, Joe Bonaparte, offers to fight instead. Moody laughs at the idea at first, but is desperate for another boxer, and so he agrees to it. Bonaparte, sits at the table with his Jewish friend, Mr. Carp, and his son-in-law, Siggie. Bonaparte refuses to buy Siggie a taxicab, but later shows Mr.
Carp the expensive violin that he plans on giving to Joe for his twenty-first birthday the next day. Frank Bonaparte, Mr. Joe comes in and says that he may take a break from music to fight some more and make some real money. He is ashamed of his poverty and sees fighting as the answer to his problems. As a result, Mr.
Bonaparte holds back from giving Joe his birthday present. Lorna leaves and Mr. Bonaparte comes in, revealing the fact that Joe is afraid to hurt his hands because it will destroy his chances at a music career. The men try to appeal to Joe to give up his dream of being a musician and to embrace boxing, but Joe is unsure. Later, Moody explains the situation to Lorna, who says she will coerce Joe into fighting. Act 1, Scene 4 A few nights later, Joe and Lorna sit on a park bench, talking.
Joe is defensive of his differences, including his crossed eyes, and wishes that he could use his music to get even with the people who have made fun of him in the past. Lorna seizes on this as a way to promote the fighting lifestyle, by saying he can take out his aggressions on other people. Joe tries to analyze Lorna and talk about her affair with Moody, but she is violently opposed to his questions. Joe talks about how he really wants a fast sports car, and Lorna says that if he fights he will get the money to buy one.
Joe agrees to fight. Bonaparte about her hurtful past. Bonaparte asks Lorna to watch out for Joe, and to help him find his true path in life. When Joe is leaving, Mr. Bonaparte tries to give him the violin that he bought for him.
Joe briefly plays the instrument, but then tells his father to return it. Joe asks his father for his blessing on his boxing career, but Mr. Bonaparte refuses and tells him to be careful for his hands. Act 2, Scene 1 Six months later, Moody, Roxy, Lorna, and Tokio watch Joe as he trains in the gym, and note that Joe is still occasionally distracted by memories of his music.
Eddie Fuseli, a renowned gambler and gangster, comes in and says he wants to help manage Joe. Moody refuses at first, until they leave it up to Joe, who agrees to let Fuseli help manage him as long as Fuseli does not interfere in his personal life as the others have. Later, Moody worries that Joe is getting too hard to manage and encourages Lorna to seduce Joe away from fast cars and his old life.
Act 2, Scene 2 A few nights later, Joe and Lorna sit in the park again. Joe confesses his love for Lorna, and encourages her to leave Moody. Lorna says that she cannot because Moody needs her and because she feels sorry for him. When Joe keeps pushing, asking her what she gets out of the relationship, she tells him how Moody rescued her from poverty. She says that she wants peace and quiet, not love, because she has been hurt by love before.
However, Joe persists, and she confesses her love for him saying that she will break off her relationship with Moody. Moody tells Lorna that his wife is granting him a divorce and that he can finally marry Lorna.
Moody says that he does not like the way that Joe looks at Lorna, and they argue some more. Lorna suggests that she is going to leave him, but changes her mind when she sees that her leaving would destroy Moody. Joe and Fuseli walk into the office and catch Moody and Lorna kissing. Joe argues with Moody and Fuseli threatens Moody to leave Joe alone. Joe says that Lorna loves him, but Lorna professes her love for Moody. Joe and Fuseli leave and Lorna confesses to Tom that she loves Joe.
Act 2, Scene 4 Six weeks later in the dressing room before the Lombardo fight, Mr. Bonaparte and a number of others come and go, distracting Joe.
Fuseli helps to clear out the room and leaves Joe alone with Tokio, who preps Joe for the fight. Although Joe is frustrated from the visits at first, he eventually starts shadow boxing, full of energy. Joe leaves to fight Lombardo, just as Pepper White, another boxer, comes back from winning his fight. He realizes that if Joe continues, his hands will be useless for anything except fighting.
Joe comes in from his fight and reveals that he has broken his hand—signaling his total conversion into a fighter. The other writer congratulates Moody on his engagement to Lorna, which is news to Joe. When Joe is alone, Lorna comes in and they soon start to argue. She accuses him of turning into a killer like Fuseli. Lorna leaves and Fuseli comes in.
The two are dressed almost alike, another sign that Joe has succumbed to a materialistic lifestyle. Joe tries to leave his boxing career, but changes his mind when Fuseli threatens him.
Fuseli comes in and tells her to leave town, since she is distracting Joe. Joe comes in from his fight and stops Fuseli from drawing his gun on Lorna. Joe soon finds out that his win against the Chocolate Drop has killed the boxer. Lorna decides to leave Moody. She and Joe flee the city in his sports car.
They are not sympathetic to the death of the boxer, but are stunned when they find out from a phone call that their prized possession, Joe, has died in a car crash. Moody is especially distraught over the loss of Lorna. The play ends with Mr. Anna plays the maternal role for Joe, in place of their deceased mother. When Joe is leaving for his first fighting tour, Anna helps him pack and instructs him on what types of clothes he needs to buy in the city.
Barker Barker is the manager of the Baltimore Chocolate Drop and is distraught when Joe kills his boxer. Joe Bonaparte Joe Bonaparte, known only as "Boy" in the first part of the first scene, is a talented violinist, who trades his musical dream for the chance to pursue a life of fame and fortune in boxing. Joe continues to box, but he is torn between the violin and boxing, a fact that is evident in the ring—where he is noticeably pulling his punches to protect his hands.
When this fails, Moody sends his girlfriend, Lorna Moon, to try to seduce Joe away from his old life. Joe, smitten with Lorna and craving the rich lifestyle of a boxer, reluctantly agrees. He rapidly improves his fighting technique, to the delight of his managers and the horror of his father. However, since Joe alienates his family, he rarely sees his father. When he does see him, Mr. Nevertheless, when Joe breaks his hand during a fight, a sign that he is now committed to his boxing career, Mr.
Bonaparte is there to see it. This hate is fueled both by his childhood— where he was picked on a lot for his flamboyant name and crossed eyes—and by his scorned love for Lorna Moon. Joe spends money on materialistic possessions like a sports car, and begins to dress like Fuseli. When he tries to leave the boxing life, Fuseli threatens him.
Plot[ edit ] Joe Bonaparte, a young Italian-American man and talented violinist, dreams of becoming a professional musician. Joe, however, fights a boxing match for manager Tom Moody, which he wins. Bonaparte decides not to give Joe the violin. Two months later, Joe has become a successful boxer for Moody and Roxy Gottlieb, a prizefight promoter.