Gold's autobiographical novel is set on the East Side of New York City in a slum populated mainly by Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. His father is a painter, but suffers from sickness because of the lead in the paint. At first he manages to make a living for the family, but when he falls from a scaffold, he is no longer able to continue as a painter. Since he has no other trade, the family is pushed into further poverty. Michael, his young son, is forced to go out and work. His wife gets a job in a restaurant. The family is forced to live from hand to mouth. Although he is a bright boy, the young Michael decides he must leave school and try to get a job to support the family. Gold's novel paints a picture of immigrant life in the early part of the 20th century.
This report prepared by Jack Goodstein