Crime

In Red Harvest, by Hammett, and The Life and Death of Great American Cities, by Jacobs, the theme of crime is very prevalent.  Jacobs writes an intriguing explanation on cities and why crime is more frequent in certain areas rather than others.  Hammett's piece is a mysterious story that revolves around crime and how the crime has wreaked havoc on the whole city of Personville.  Both works showcased crime in two very different ways, but come to the same sorts of conclusions.  Murder, gangs, and police who are either unable to do the whole job or corrupt through and through can lead to the destruction of a city.

This murder scene represents the violence present in a crime-stricken city. In Jacobs' writing she quotes a woman that lives in the city who says, "'The only disturbing sound at night is the occasional scream of someone being mugged'" (30). That is rather disturbing. In Hammett's story, the character claims that there has been "There's been what? A dozen and a half murders since I've been here. That's sixteen of them in less than a week, and more coming up" (154). Violence seems to be everywhere and in large quantity in some of these places, and the mass amount of killing in Hammett's book showcases this exactly.
What could better represent Red Harvest and a city than a gun? In unsafe places, a plethora of guns and weapons seem to always play a starring role. In Red Harvest, it seems as if every scene features a gun whether it is being used as a means to interrogate or scare or it is being fired at someone. Within the first six pages, there is already a murder that is executed with a gun. "'Don Willsson's gone to sit at the right hand of God, if God don't mind looking at bullet holes" (6). It seems as if almost always crime is committed with the use of a gun as a threat.
With mass amounts of crime in an area, there seems to also always be gang activity. This is a photograph of a gang in East Los Angeles. In Jacobs piece, she speaks of gang and gang territory and how they can become violent against other gangs. "Members of other gangs cannot enter this Turf without permission from the Turf-owning gang, or if they do so it as at the peril of being beaten or run off" (47). The city of Personville in Red Harvest is controlled by gangs. "To beat the miners he had to let his hired thugs run wild. When the fight was over he couldn't get rid of them" (9). It is made clear that ever since then, gangs and thugs ran the city. Gangs are a huge enemy to a city's success. They, a lot of times, contribute greatly to the crime amounts in a city.
This portrait depicts an arrested man in the presence of two cops. Crime and police go hand in hand. The issue is that, as Jacob says, "No amount of police can enforce civilization where the normal, casual enforcement of it has broken down" (32). Oftentimes, when a city has too much crime, the police do not even factor in as it is just too much and too hopeless. In Personville, it is obvious that the police department has issues, especially with efficiency. First of all, Elihu desperately asks the Continental Op to "empty Personville of all its crooks" as the police system is incapable (43). At another part of the book, one of the gang leaders, Whisper, actually escapes prison. This speaks volumes in relation to the inadequacy of the police force in Personville. In these cities, it is obvious policing is necessary, but it seems as if the police system is unable to do enough to stop the crime.
Fear is instilled in people who live or visit a crime-ridden city. Jacobs says, "It does not take many incidents of violence on a city street, or in a city district, to make people fear the streets" (30). When people fear the streets of the city, circumstances seem to only get worse and worse.
This portrait screams sheer chaos, as is the state of many cities that fall to crime. Jacobs says, "Barbarism takes over city streets" (30). This leads to chaos on these streets. This is also depicted in Red Harvest due to there being 16+ murders committed in the short amount of time that that Continental Op was in Personville. More than sixteen killings in less than a week is chaos. When a city is wracked with crime, it simply leads to chaos and a chaotic environment.
This is a portrait of a completely destructed city. This is the fate of a city that becomes too enveloped in crime."A city district that fails in this respect also does badly in other ways and lays up for itself, and for its city at large, mountain on mountain of trouble" (Jacobs 30). By "in this respect", Jacobs is referring to safety. Destruction does not pertain solely to the city itself, either. It can bleed into the city's people. "Anybody that brings ethics to Poisonville is going to get them rusty" (Hammett 117). At one point in the book, the main character even thought that this city had poisoned him so much that it had influenced him to commit murder himself (164). A crime-ridden city can destruct its people and self-destruct.
This statue depicts peace with its olive branch and caduceus. The ultimate goal of a city, especially in a city devastated by crime, is to find peace. "The bedrock attribute of a successful city district is that a person must feel personally safe and secure on the street among all these strangers" (Jacobs 30). Safety and security is a state of peacefulness. This is also why Elihu asked the main character in Red Harvest to rid Personville of the crooks--he hoped that this would lead to some state of peace and safety in his city. He was hopeful that soon, Personville would not be governed by thugs and gangs.
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