Disclaimer: This is an example of a student written essay.
Click here for sample essays written by our professional writers.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UKEssays.com.

John Fantes: Ask The Dust

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Film Studies
Wordcount: 1605 words Published: 18th Apr 2017

Reference this

In Ask the Dust, Los Angeles has a false stereotype of fame and fortune. Arturo tries to fulfill this desire by quickly spending his sparse income on a lavish lifestyle before being broke again. As the book progresses, each paycheck Arturo receives is a small stepping stone for him to learn from his financial mistakes, preparing him to be financially smart in the Los Angeles workforce. The first paycheck Arturo receives is ten dollars from an insurance policy his mother cashed in. ” Dearest Mother , Thanks for the ten dollar bill … it will come in handy for various odds and ends.” Ask the Dust, page 21. Arturo quickly spends $9.10 in one night at a burlesque show and on a prostitute, leaving him ninety cents for the bleak future to come.

Get Help With Your Essay

If you need assistance with writing your essay, our professional essay writing service is here to help!

Essay Writing Service

The second paycheck Arturo receives wasn’t expected by any means. A letter he wrote to the Editor-In-Chief J.C. Hackmuth, is developed into a short story (The Long Lost Hills ) and printed in the magazine for $175.00. At the rate of inflation that paycheck in today’s economy is the proportion of $3,000. Arturo, trying to fulfill his own stereotype of being a successful Los Angelino immigrant, squanders his paycheck on a lavish lifestyle and delusions of grandeur. The third and final paycheck we see is the paycheck for Arturo’s novel, The Story of Vera Rivken, $500.00 paid to Arturo Bandini. At this point, Arturo has made an abundant amount of financial mistakes. The fame and fortune that Los Angeles promises was finally his and now he was financially responsible enough to not squander it. Arturo spends his money more wisely this time around, a 10 year old used Ford is the extent of his expenditures. When Arturo and Camilla buy a pure white collie, he cringes at the idea of spending twenty five dollars. In the context of the situation, he isn’t cheap but isn’t throwing his money away either. The fact that Arturo has been contracted for his book exemplifies that he has succeeded as a writer. His being able to overcome the urge to squander his $500.00 is an example of how he succeeded in overcoming the false hope of Los Angeles.

In Ask the Dust there is an exact image all the immigrants have in mind when they speak of Los Angeles, the land of promise, prospect, and new beginnings. Although this dream did come true for Arturo, it did take him a lot of work and hardships in order to get there. Arturo thought it was going to be easier due to the booster propaganda that was advertised. Arturo and Camilla’s constant work ethic are prime examples of how you can make it in Los Angeles, although the vices of Los Angeles (i.e, marijuana, delusions of grandeur) can pull you back down to the poverty level. Catherine Kordich states in her article ” Border Dust” that these booster posters and propaganda were aimed at a receptive audience , leading Midwesterners to believe that living in Los Angeles is easy.

The majority of immigrants that make the journey down to Los Angeles were able to keep a few dollars in their pocket so they could still keep the Los Angeles dream alive. Then you have a struggling writer like Arturo Bandini who finally writes his novel and makes $500.00 for it. The posters used are quite simple now that we can look back on it ( works cited booster photo example ). The poster shows a playful Latina holding up the sun. She has a bright yellow two piece on as she frolics through the tiny missions and downtown Los Angeles coastline. Now, this poster dream is what lures in the immigrants west. It’s the bait and switch routine.

When Arturo gets to his room in the Alta Loma he has an awe inspired moment. He sees his first palm tree and thinks of Egypt, Palm Sunday, and Cleopatra. This is obviously a representation of his delusions of grandeur. He sees Los Angeles holding the Palm Trees praising him like Jesus or Cleopatra. He then has a harsh realization that the palms are covered in soot from the carbon monoxide from the tunnel and ” it’s crusted trunk choked with dust and sand that blew in from the Mojave and Santa Ana deserts.” Ask the Dust, page 16.

In that moment he realizes this isn’t what he saw in the ad, a tiny room , soot covered palm trees, dust rolling in from the desert. As the story progresses, his image of Los Angeles gets more and more corrupted, starting off with the palms trees and progressing to the marijuana club. Arturo gives a good insight into the real Los Angeles ” You’ll eat hamburgers year after year and live in dusty, vermin-infested apartments and hotels…. But you’ll still be in paradise, boys, in the land of sunshine.” Ask the Dust, page 46. Arturo has come to the realization that there is false hope in Los Angeles. He is about to ask his mother for money to go back home before he gets an unexpected check from Hackmuth. There have been several examples of immigrants going back home to their state of origin, the Memphis kid , an ugly young man trying to find love in all of Los Angeles, eventually giving up and moved back to Tennessee. Under the Booster poster illustrations there is a mass of immigrants like Arturo trying to get back home realizing they have made a huge mistake in having hope for Los Angeles.

The boosters and propaganda that led Arturo to the beautiful Los Angeles were paid advertisements in order to create a metropolis on the west coast. The answer to a majority of problems is always money. When Arturo makes the decision to come to Los Angeles to concentrate on his writing, the outcome would be fame and fortune. David Fine goes into the background of this “ideal Los Angeles” in his book, Imagining Los Angeles : A city in fiction. The background to this idea was created by many writers and entrepreneurs dating back to about 1880 when writers were creating a myth to reconstruct history in a more positive light. Giving the missions a noble and positive meaning and reinvigorating the Native American culture.

Harrison Otis, publisher of the Los Angeles Daily times , made an empire out of land and worked hard to make the Los Angeles Daily Times a reputable newspaper. He got an aqueduct built over 240 miles in order to bring flowing water to Los Angeles. Since he owned a massive amount of land that he paid basically nothing for, he made amazing amounts of profits in just about two years from immigrants buying property . He was a millionaire and built a metropolis to do so.

Is it ethical to create a metropolis and give false hope to immigrants? Many would say no. But in Arturo Bandini’s case, like many others, he was quite successful in creating a new life for himself in Los Angeles. By the end of Ask the Dust we see Arturo succeed in his dream, he writes a novel , has a beautiful Mexican girlfriend , and even has a pup name Willie. Los Angeles gives false hope to all immigrants. So as quick as Arturo is instilled with hope, it is quickly taken away.

For a majority of immigrants, the hope in traveling to Los Angeles is to have a new beginning, fame, fortun , and love . Arturo Bandini is obsessed with the idea of fame and fortune. He has an irrational fear of women, because he has never been with one. When he meets fellow immigrant Camilla Lopez, he has a strong love hate relationship with her. In the beginning of the book, his delusions of grandeur make him feel superior to her in every way. As the book progresses and they actually spend more time together, he realizes Sammy, the bartender with tuberculosis , is Camilla’s love interest. Although Sammy does not love Camilla, they are all intertwined in seeking out Love as their hopeful Los Angeles dream.

Arturo always has his fame and fortune to occupy himself when Camilla is on his mind. Although when he finally publishes his book and succeeds in his dream, all he can think about is Camilla. Since Camilla has had a nervous breakdown and gone missing, Arturo becomes frantic to please her.

The story seems to come to the end when Arturo, Camilla, and their pup Willie move into a beach house in Laguna. When Arturo comes back she’s gone. He tracks her down to Sammy’s shack in the desert. He informs Arturo that Camilla and the dog walked over the ridge and into the empty desert. Frantically Arturo gives up hope after searching for her. This entire sad ending relates to the false hope given by the Los Angeles dream. Camilla cannot find happiness with Sammy or Arturo, so she reverts back to her native land from which she came. There is 100 miles of desert so it’s highly unlikely she survived. She gave up hope for her Los Angeles dream. Arturo, on the other hand, realized what actually matters in his life, his Los Angeles dream was always Camilla Lopez.

Los Angeles

A False Hope

By Matthew Caire

Works Cited Page

Fante, John. “Ask the Dust.” Harper Collins Publishers. New York,

NY 1939.

Fine, David. ” Imagining Los Angeles : A City in Fiction.” University of Nevada Press.

Reno, Nevada 2000

Kordich, Catherine J. ” John Fante’s Ask the Dust: A Border Reading.”

Maskers and Tricksters 20 (1995): 17-26

Kellogg, Carolyn. “John Fante’s ‘Ask the Dust’ grows with time.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Ca 2009

Southern California United Airlines. Illustration . Southern California – United Airlines


Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Related Services

View all

DMCA / Removal Request

If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have your work published on UKEssays.com then please: