The Last Hurrah

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Joel Newbury State/local Government October 30, 2001 The Last Hurrah Edwin O'Conner's Novel the Last Hurrah epitomizes governmental corruption within communities and political structures. The Last Hurrah not only demonstrates the support for this type of institution, corrupt government, but also it's importance within the community itself. The story also addresses prejudice and the theme of ethnic stereotyping through his character development.

Today's societies, as well as the period The Last Hurrah discussed, shows governmental corruption as main way cities were represented. For instance, the main character Skeffington was a loose portrayal of James Michael Curley who was a forceful and corrupt political force in the Boston community. Curley dominated Boston politics for more than 50 years. Skeffington, much like Curley, spent most of his time and money in office on projects for the advancement of Irish immigrants in exchange for votes. In my opinion, all institutions in a democratic based society involve some sort of corruption, whether it is financial or the electoral process of a community.

The electoral process depicted in Skeffington's city is not a far cry from the elections that are held today. For example, The Last Hurrah depicted the use of media, specifically television advertisements, as a vehicle for political propaganda. Also portrayed was the use of social functions, such as the wake of Knocko Minihan, that Frank Skeffington used as platform to espouse his political ideologies. Much like elections in the 1950's, elections today are more about donations and kissing babies rather then directly addressing issues.

Adam, Skeffington's nephew, served as window in Skeffington's beliefs, personality traits, and political motives through his interrogating questions. For example while at the wake, Adam inquires why the wake seemed to serve more as a political agenda rather then a celebration of Minihan's death.

I have two main reactions to various people portrayed in The Last Hurrah. The first one is the relationship of Skeffington and Gorman, and how it seemed that Gorman was his right hand man, yet at the same time he shows skepticism towards Skeffington. For example, Gorman was talking to Molly Riordan at the party, she notes that "Skeffington is the best of them all John, God love him. There's not a night that goes by I don't say a little prayer for him." Gorman's response is a simple, non-committal comment about the party and attempts to avoid demonstrating any commitment to Molly's remarks. This interaction demonstrates closeness between Skeffington and Gorman, but not a loyal one.

My second reaction was to Adam and my admiration for him to be his own person in a sense that he didn't let anyone else influence his political beliefs. This is shown through him working for a boss who dislikes his uncle and him working for his uncle even though his wife was against it.

In conclusion, I feel that this award-winning novel was very appropriate for our course because it gave us an accurate portrayal of the so-called corrupt election. In reading The Last Hurrah, I felt I learned the extent depth of corruption that pervades American governments at all levels and the extent politicians will go to in order to utilize social events as means of a political rally.