Mount Alvernia High School, Newton, Massachusetts
~  Kara  Carney ~

The Political Career of Tip O'Neill, Jr.

George P. Pelecanos: Good People Emerging from a Corrupt Society

George  Pelecanos
Thomas P. O’Neill was a great political leader who emerged from Boston. During his political career O’Neill held many different political positions, however he always kept his home, Boston, in his mind. One of the most influential people in Tip’s life was his father, Thomas O’Neill, Sr. Tip’s father was also raised in Boston and learned everything about politics through his own experiences in the city. It was Thomas, Sr. who told Tip that “all politics are local,” a saying that would remain with Tip his whole life and put him on the track to becoming a just and powerful politican. James Michael Curley was another politican who influenced Tip’s life; Curley was a politican in Boston during the 1920s, the same time when Tip was first getting involved in politics. Tip looked to Curley as an example of what type of politican Tip did not want to become; he took only the positive influences that Curley gave him and used them in his politics.

Like Tip O’Neill who tried to make his society a safer, more humane place, the characters Derek Strange and Terry Quinn from George Pelecanos’ novels Right as Rain , Hell to Pay, and Soul Circus also worked to make their community a safer place. Strange and Quinn selflessly battle the corruption of their society, as well as strive to lead good lives themselves. Both Strange and Quinn struggle to be good people and to do good in a corrupt society. They face constant challenges as they try to overcome obstacles such as racism and the overall corruption of their community. Pelecanos employs naturalism, a literary philosophy which asserts that fate is determined by environment, to shape his characters. However, in this case, rather than succumbing to society’s corruption the two respond by working to change society for the better.

Major Works Consulted:

Farrell, John A. Tip O’Neill and the Democratic Century. Boston: Little, Brown, 2001.
Novak, William. Man of the House; The Life and Political Memoirs of Speaker Tip O’Neill. New York: Random, 1987.
Pelecanos, George P. Hell to Pay. Boston: Little, Brown, 2002.
---. Soul Circus. Boston: Little, Brown, 2003.
Photo Credit: Pelecanos, George P. Right as Rain. Boston: Warner, 2001.


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