Impact of Geography in Richard Russo's Novels Essay

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Richard Russo’s novels Empire Falls and Nobody’s Fool examine the relationships between individuals in a small town environment. In Empire Falls, Miles Roby and his family have stayed in Empire Falls for much of their life with no foreseeable change in the future. In Nobody’s Fool, Donald “Sully” Sullivan has lived in North Bath, NY since he was a child and seems to have deteriorated with the town. In both novels, the towns have declining economic prospects and the residents have little engagement with happenings outside their towns. The landlocked geography of Empire Falls, ME and North Bath, NY has a profound impact on each character's ability to evolve personally and intellectually. Empire Falls is located several hours from a major…show more content…
Miles’s mother, while stuck in Empire Falls herself, dreams that her son defies the geographical trap of Empire Falls but is unable to realize this dream when she becomes stricken with cancer. Miles comes home with the promise of financial assistance for his mother from Francine Whiting, the resident who possesses the most capital in town. Mrs. Whiting “suggested that he would [run the Empire Grill] ‘for a year or so,’ and she would ensure Grace would get the care she needed. However, after his mother dies, Mrs. Whiting changed the bait, promising that he’ll inherit the grill upon her death. Now Miles is in his mother’s shoes: stuck in a small Maine town with few prospects” (Prager 256). In small geographical regions, proprietors like Francine are able to purchase large amounts of land and control entire areas. Miles falls victim to Francine who successfully controls him and the town. Francine also exerts influence over town police officer Jimmy Minty: “"When people look at Jimmy, they see someone who reassures them that trying to escape the provincial life isn't worth the trouble. This is why he feels comfortable with most of the town's citizens and vice versa" (Allen 259). Hypnotized by Francine Whiting’s powers, Jimmy acts as her henchman. The isolated nature of the town prevents the citizens from seeing the reality of the situation- a crooked cop who is "stuck" in Empire

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