The novel is set in Brooklyn. The neighborhood is a rundown conglomeration of tenements and stores not far from a small park, a movie theater, and a public library. With the exception of Frank Alpine and Ward Minogue, the important characters are Jews, but since they are in a neighborhood of gentiles, they are drawn to one another — however vaguely or antagonistically at times — by the bond of their Jewishness. Judaism as a formal religion seems to have little place in their lives, but their consciousness of themselves as Jews is always presentThe sources and nature of such an identity are complex, and to those who have had little contact with ethnic groups especially in big cities — ethnic identities may be puzzling. They are, however, a
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