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How Are ‘A Safe Place’ by Lorenzo Carcaterra And ‘Oliver Twist’ by Charles Dickens Similar And Different?

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How Are 'A Safe Place' by Lorenzo Carcaterra And 'Oliver Twist' by Charles Dickens Similar And Different? 'A Safe Place' by Lorenzo Carcaterra and 'Oliver Twist' by Charles Dickens both have similar characters, being Oliver Twist and Lorenzo Carcaterra. They also have similar themes of poverty and childhood. Yet they were set in very different places at very different times. 'Oliver Twist' is the story of an orphaned boy and his struggle to survive in Victorian London. 'A Safe Place' is an autobiographical account of Lorenzo Carcaterra's childhood in 1940's Hells Kitchen, New York. It tells of how his father beat him and how his family was always trying to escape poverty. Therefore both books tell of a lonely and poverty-ridden childhood filled with abuse and false hope. The first chapter of 'Oliver Twist' describes his birth. The way this event is described gives you an idea of his destiny. It writes him off from the beginning. "He was badged and ticketed, and fell into his place at once - a parish child - the orphan of a workhouse - the humble, half-starved drudge - to be cuffed and buffeted through the world - despised by all". This quote sums up the mood of the entire first chapter. There is no hope for Oliver. Before Oliver runs away to London he is subjected to the labours of being an orphan in Victorian times. ...read more.


There are large amounts of elaborate description, often using long, structured sentences, and in-depth character descriptions at every introduction. Charles Dickens effortlessly switches between physical description and more in depth character analysis, "Now, Mr. Bumble was a fat man, and a choleric; so instead of responding to this open-hearted salutation in a kindred spirit, he gave a little wicket a tremendous shake". There is also a lot of flowing dialogue, which can often become confusing to read, as it is hard to follow who is talking. Conversations often last more than two pages. The language in the two novels is very different but both fit the era in which they were written. Charles Dickens and Lorenzo Carcaterra use very different descriptions for both characters and settings but both work to the same effect. Charles Dickens painting an elaborate and dark view of the back streets of Victorian London and Lorenzo Carcaterra telling tales of a rough yet close neighbourhood in 1940's New York. 'Oliver Twist' is written from a 3rd person point of view. It is as though Charles Dickens is watching the events unfold before him and telling the reader how he sees them, although often with a slight bias towards Oliver. It is told by an omniscient narrator. When Oliver Twist was first written it was in weekly sagas for a magazine. This explains the cliffhangers at the end of each chapter and the way the storylines jump around and are unpredictable. ...read more.


The beatings Lorenzo Carcaterra and his mother received at the hands of his father are seen as both disturbing and an integral part of family life. It is a view of volatile family life from a member of such a family. This position gives 'A Safe Place' a very personal feel to it as Lorenzo Carcaterra tells us all his thoughts on his unpleasant childhood and then continues these themes into his adult life. The books are written from a suitable point of view for the theme although 'A Safe Place' is probably a slightly more in-depth and realistic view of the issues it deals with. 'Oliver Twist' is more of a commentary although Charles Dickens childhood was also filled with poverty so he was in a better position than most to write about struggling to survive. In both books the poverty of certain characters leads to large amounts of stress, which leads to murder. This is an underlying theme in both books, saying that people only commit crimes because they are put in a position where they have to. I conclude that 'A Safe Place' and 'Oliver Twist' have very similar themes, those being poverty, poor upbringing, isolation and death, but are written in very different styles, based on very different stories set in different periods and different places. Despite these differences both books provide a very good view of life at the time they were written and are as much about society and history as they are about being stories. ?? ?? ?? ?? Matthew Estall ...read more.

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