“The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan,” the second novel in James T. Farrell's trilogy begins with Studs dropping out of high school in 1917. All he is interested in is hanging around the pool hall with his pals, keeping up his reputation as a tough guy, and getting close to his childhood sweetheart, Lucy Scanlon. After some lame attempts at finding work, he takes a job with his father as a painter, but his real life is still out in the streets. He and his friends make fun of the younger guys, the punks. They terrorize Blacks and Jews. They do a lot of drinking and chasing after “loose” girls.
As time passes the neighborhood begins to change. Old pals leave, some die. Some of them go to college. Blacks begin to move in. But life for Studs seems a dead end. He keeps making vows that he will change, stop drinking, stay away from the pool hall, and become a decent guy. When his sister talks him into buying a ticket to her sorority's dance, he decides to look up Lucy and see if she will be his date. She agrees, but when he mauls her on the way home, she runs in the house and refuses to see him again.
As time passes, Studs finds that he is no longer the tough character he used to be. He puts on weight. He boxes with one of the young punks and gets beaten fairly easily. He gets fatigued moving furniture out of his family's apartment. Late nights and booze have taken their toll on him. Farrell paints a picture of a self absorbed young man unable to rise above his environment.
This report prepared by Jack Goodstein