Things are not what they seem like in the big city that is part of wild nature with hills and desert and yet is the emblem of modern life with endless freeways and cars moving in all directions. Los Angles is the city of dreams where stars are made in Hollywood, but also the place of poverty, corruption and crime. The many faces of Los Angles are captured in Truman Capote’s narrative essay “Hollywood”. The essay was published in the collection Local Color from 1950. The story is about Truman Capote’s holiday trip to
Hollywood in December. The story takes place in a plane, where Truman Capote is on his way to L. A. He is sitting besides Thelma, a young, black, woman, who are about to make a living in Hollywood, and hopefully becomes famous. They accompany each other for some time, until Thelma is dropped in the middle of Hollywood by the taxi driver. Later he visits the famous Miss C. Through their mutual friend Nora Parker. Some time after the visit, Truman Capote feels the need for some Juicy fruit, which he saw on display some time ago. But he quickly discovers that the displayed fruit is plastic.
It is getting close to Christmas, but it doesn’t feel like it. Truman Capote is waiting for the bus, and meets P, a lady friend of his, who offers him a ride home. They buy a present for A, and drives to his home. And here the story ends with As father saying: “merry Christmas, children”. In the story “Hollywood” Truman Capote is focusing on how the outer picture of L. A is shown, and how it can be a dangerous thing. Truman is a narrative speaker in the story, so we follow him throughout the whole story. We get to see everything from his point of view, both as a writer and as the narrator of the story. Hollywood and L.
A is pictured like everything is pretty, humble and perfect on the outside, but deep down the city is mostly drowned in outcasts from the war, people who are trying to make a living by selling drugs on the street corner or desperate human beings trying to catch their dreams in the city of possibilities, which we also see in this quote: “Here again, though in disguise, was the surface of the moon, the anyplace of everywhere; but how very correct, after all, that here at the continent’s end we should find only a dumping ground for all that is most exploited American: oil pumps pumping like the heart of demons, avenue of used- AR lots, supermarkets, motels (… )” (p. 352, l. 0-15) the moon is beautiful and pretty from a distance but when you get closer to the surface, you see the cracks and all the hidden imperfections, Just like Hollywood and the rest of L. A. Nothing can be pure, natural or real in Hollywood that is simply a fact; everything depends on the appearance and the showing. Even the most basic things needs to look perfect to give people that though of Hollywood that they want, which we can see in this quote: “l reached for one of these extraordinary apples, but it seemed to be clued into its case. A salesgirl giggled. ‘ Plaster,’ she said” (p. 354, l. 4-5) Like a tooth, they need to cover up the whole with plaster so the tooth doesn’t get rotten and looks ugly, which is exactly what this salesgirl is doing.
She is showing of the pretty surface which has no mistakes or cracks, but when you look closely it’s all Just a set up, and another way to fool you, and then you end up with 6 mealy apples, and leave disappointed. It easy to get lost in L. A, and it’s dangerous too, because even though everything is cover ups of the real truth, there is a greater danger around the corner, so if you likely tend to explore Hollywood like Thelma do, you would easily end up the wrong place in the wrong time. You need to have something extraordinary to make a living or Just barely get to the house rent which P is a great example of “She has the sort of wit that excludes malice, and, what is more uncommon, she has managed thirty years of Hollywood with humor and dignity. Naturally, she is not very rich” (p. 55, 27-29) even though P is a great performer and actress and have lived in Hollywood the last thirty years she isn’t wealthy at all. She lives in an apartment placed over a garage, so even Hough you live in Hollywood it isn’t a sign of wealth, it’s the sign of being stubborn and never letting go of what you love to do, and you have to have humor and dignity to overcome that, Just like P. But as a matter of fact the wealthy part of Hollywood shows in the story too. We get to meet Miss C and her daughter living in a house hidden behind steel gates and bodyguards. They sure don’t need anything with their luxurious gold shakers and cups and fresh flowers from the finest floweriest in Beverly Hills.
So even though Hollywood is the place were talents are made and great success stories are written, it doesn’t mean that the backside of the medal is Just as pretty. The themes poverty, youth, death, wealth, is shown frequently throughout the story and that also shows the front and backside of the city. Hollywood is not the only way to get a higher status in life, but people tend to think it’s the easiest way to get a push in the right direction, but not every story has a happy ending. The story gives us a complex insight of how Hollywood really works. Nothing comes easy, and even though you have been working 30 years in the industry it doesn’t mean that you are rich and successful.