City Limits Summary

“City Limits” is the first chapter in Colson Whitehead’s novel “The Colossus of New York”. Throughout the chapter, the author uses point of views such as first and second person to show the different perspectives of city life in New York. From a first person point of view, the author gives the experiences he encountered while being in New York. His “New York” started when he was looking out the window of the No.1 train as the train elevated from the underground tunnel to the tracks above 125th street. From a second person point of view, Whitehead gives many scenarios to a person’s life in New York City. With examples such as “Maybe you came here for school”,”Maybe you saw the brochure”, “Or maybe you moved here a couple years ago for a job”. Through each individual’s recollection of memories and experiences it’s their “New York”. Although we all live in the same city, Whitehead implies that ” The New York City you live in is not my New York City: how could it be?”. New York City is always changing with adding new accommodations to replace the old ones which someone may have experienced. Whitehead mentions that ” The disappeared pizza parlor is still here because you are here, and when the beauty parlor replaces the travel agency, the gentleman will still have his vacation. And that lady will have her manicure”. That individual’s New York has been changed but they still have the memory of that old piece of New York they lived through.   While that person’s New York experienced may have been changed it might be a new experience for someone else. Whitehead’s idea of a New Yorker is someone who has an attachment to the memory they had while being in the city. New Yorkers unite by their unique experiences whether that other person may or may not have experienced it themselves.

1 thought on “City Limits Summary”

  1. I think your summary is spot on. Good of you to make note of the points of view used, which I wasn’t thinking about and overlooked in my own writing. The excerpts you chose to quote were short and plentiful so as to best support you without overtaking your writing. I also liked your ordering of the author’s points, moving from the author’s personal experiences to the second person scenarios, and tying off their separate attachments with the last quotation. Looks like we drew the same conclusions with regards to how New Yorkers are united, too.

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