John McPhee’s essay, “The Search For Marvin Gardens,” was written in 1972.In the essay, McPhee searches for Marvin Gardens, with no luck.He learns that Marvin Gardens is the only street in Monopoly that does not actually exist in Atlantic City. Rather, Marvin Gardens is a middle class suburb of the city. As McPhee searches the city for Marvin Gardens, he comes across many of the streets that exist in the game of Monopoly. Baltic and Mediterranean Avenue, the cheapest properties in Monopoly, are located in the heart of the ghettos of the real Atlantic City. At this point in the essay, McPhee learns that he should not expect for Atlantic City to be as attractive as it is portrayed in Monopoly.
McPhee also visits and describes such places as the Boardwalk, St. Charles Place, and Pennsylvania Avenue. None of the places McPhee visits is accurately portrayed by the game of Monopoly.
- Thesis Statement
- Structure and Outline
- Voice and Grammar
In addition to describing the many streets of Atlantic City, McPhee also writes about the game of Monopoly itself. He discusses strategies with the reader, and critiques the many intricacies of the game. McPhee also speaks of the inventor, Charles B. Darrow, and of the fact that Darrow and his game have become famous.
McPhee does all of the above things in his essay. However, his essay’s main focus was comparing the real Atlantic City to the one in Monopoly. McPhee’s description of the ghettos located near the Mediterranean Avenue is not very flattering. McPhee compares the area to Metz in 1919, and to Cologne in 1944. “Then, beyond Atlantic Avenue, North Carolina moves on into the vast ghetto, the bulk of the city, and it looks like Metz in 1919, Cologne in 1944. Nothing has actually exploded.
It is not bomb damage. It is deep and complex decay. Roofs are off.
Bricks are scattered in the street” (McPhee 365). These two towns were the most bombarded in each of the two World Wars. Obviously, this particular ghetto in Atlantic City was never actually bombed. Time had run its course on the buildings of the neighborhood. They were most likely abandoned by their owners during the Great Depression, left to wither away..