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Written in 1945, Focus was Arthur Miller's first novel and one of the first books to directly confront American anti-Semitism. It remains as chilling and incisive today as it was at the time of its controversial debut. As World War II draws to a close, anti-Semitism is alive and well in Brooklyn, New York. Here, Newman, an American of English descent, floats through a world of multiethnic neighborhoods indifferent to the racism around him. That is, until he begins to wear glasses that render him "Jewish" in the eyes of others, making him the target of anti-Semitic prosecution. As he and his wife find friendship and support from a Jewish immigrant, Newman slowly begins to understand the racial hatreds that surround him.
mock-angry face. They rode that way for a while. Through the corners of his eyes he saw the forests and the hills and noted the hidden sensuous nooks. She did not move her thigh away. He thought, then dared say it. ‘If they give me my old room it’ll be great for us.’ ‘Off by itself?’ she asked. ‘That’s what I mean.’ There were moments when he dared say these things and hold her thigh in broad daylight. As in the nights – he had come to live only for the nights – he felt willing to die for her
head unmoving, ‘but he couldn’t help you. He’s my son. I own the hotel.’ Mr Newman met the old man’s adamantly kind gaze. ‘I see,’ he said, quietly. He took a breath. ‘I thought he’d remember me. I was here for two weeks …’ The old man’s eyes closed as he shook his head with the smile still soft. ‘Full up, mister. Couldn’t help you if I wanted to.’ ‘We’ll go on to the other one then, Lawrence,’ Gertrude said, coming to them from the desk. Newman turned to her quickly. She was looking at the
fat man who was calling to him. ‘Beg your pardon. Which one is 41 dash 39?’ ‘Right next door,’ Newman said, pointing at Fred’s house. ‘Thanks a lot,’ the fat man said. With the other he crossed the lawn and mounted the porch heavily, and they went together into Fred’s house. Newman felt that if he touched Gertrude she would scream out. He looked at her in the vague light from the parlor. ‘What’s …?’ ‘Sssh!’ The minutes passed. He could hear nothing from Fred’s house. They must have gone
children and his old father-in-law got too much for him, he had his wife pack his lunch, settled her in the store, and took the subway to Sheepshead Bay. There he avoided the big fishing boats that took out dozens of people, and rented a rowboat. The ocean is wide and he need only row a half mile out of the bay, drop his line, and enjoy ‘solitude, the golden graile of the city man.’ Lately, however, he did not like the idea of spending a day out of reach of his family. Even though they might not
Fred’s face but he smelled the man’s cigar odor. ‘I want to talk to you, Newman,’ Fred said, quietly. Gertrude came around from behind him and stood facing him beside Fred. Both of them wanted to talk to him. He heard her saying it was all right, everything was all right, Fred just wanted to talk to him and apologize … He could hear her calling to him peevishly as he walked. He knew he was walking but whether he had struck at Fred or not … he could not quite remember what had started him