Graduation Year

Spring 2014

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Department

English

Reader 1

Warren Liu

Reader 2

Aaron Matz

Rights Information

© 2014 Lauren Halberg

Abstract

Los Angeles is often depicted as a utopia—a glamorous, untroubled society on a geographical paradise. This image of perfection was crafted in conjunction with the city itself, with the metropolitan development in the 1930s. Los Angeles has been advertised as paradise and, in the 1930s, as a city unaffected by the Great Depression (Fine,“Nathanael”). The construction of the California Dream has an even more extensive historical grounding than the metropolis, though. It reaches back to the migration to California during the Gold Rush in the mid-1800s. A classic novel of the Old West, which this thesis draws upon as a representation of early western literary themes, is Frank Norris’s 1899 novel McTeague. Themes found in this early western are central to literature of 1930s Los Angeles, such as Nathanael West’s The Day of the Locust (1933) and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Love of the Last Tycoon (1941). These enduring themes include unattainable treasure, false promises, and maddening desire in pursuit of the American Dream.

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