“Let the great world spin” in a sweeping novels by McCann’s that brings together a number of characters who from their social interaction, a variety of historic and social issues are introduced. It is through the ways in which these characteristics related while living in New York that the bigger picture of the city’s background and the real social situation is brought out. Hinging on Philippe Petit as the main character and his breath taking high-wire walk crossing the twin towers, McCann highlights the traits of other supporting characters as well as the set up of the city in which they reside. Solomon one of the main characters, is seen to be too anxious to get back at Petit and in the process he ends up dispensing with a larceny which involved Jazzlyn Henderson and Tillie who were mother and daughter hookers in the novel. Though Jazzlyn escapes the larceny, she is involved in a traffic accident and gets killed. The accident also takes away the life of a priest, John Corrigan, who was the owner car (McCann 56).
Other characters find themselves interacting with Petit in one way or the other as the novel unfolds. A good example of such characters includes, Claire, the wife to Solomon, who is in the forefront helping women who had their sons killed in the Vietnam War. It was during this exercise that she comes across Gloria. These characters were used by McCann to paint the real picture of the numerous social issues facing the city of New York. The city is characterized by a breakdown of social class mostly by the mothers mourning their lost sons as they try to live beyond that and celebrate their lives. The most striking issues in this society were poverty, prostitution and drug addiction among children and women. All the mentioned issues affected the city’s society in a variety of ways but the drug issue stood out as affecting most of the characters. This is closely associated with the way the drugs were free and open in this city (McCann 34).
Most of the characters in “Let the great world spin” are seen to be involved in drugs or affected indirectly by drugs. Dugs had great impacts on the life style of many characters in the novel and were a main determinant of how most of the events unfolded in the novel. Some characters engaged in drugs as refuge away from the social issues they were facing while others tried their level best to run away from drugs in an effort to transform their lives into better people in the society. This is a clear implication that drugs usage was a key symbol in how the plot of the novel developed. Most characters had to face the issue of drug addiction in their lines of carrier indicating how much the society had been affected by this issue (McCann 88).
Corrigan served as an informal minister to the many drug addicts and prostitutes who happened to be roaming under where he stayed around the Major Deegan Expressway. The husband to Clair had to abandon his earlier ambitions of administering justice because while serving as a judge overseeing a low court, he was faced with lists and parades of prostitutes and drug addicts every day. It was so hard for him to administer justice as this was the order of the day of the society in which he now lived in. Some of the characters used drugs as a scapegoat from the issues in their lives. McCann introduces Lara as a young artist who because of her doomed marriage, finds herself struggling with drug addiction. Tillie daughter is a hooker and engages in drugs following the hardship the two faced in life including being held in a prison cell at some point (McCann 102).
New York as a city is seen as a bad influence to the characters as most of them were involved in drugs while in the city and changed to better people once they moved away. Blaine was so addicted to cocaine while she was in New York, but though she continued abusing the drug when she left and went back to a classical painting style, her consumption was not as much as what was witnessed in New York. Lara started abusing drugs more when she moved back to her painting of urban landscapes after her transition to urban abstract artist from rural transition. When Lara and Blaine tried to run away from their past marked with alcohol and drugs by moving out to a peaceful country, their addiction to drugs drew them back one night and it is then that fate interacts them with Gloria, Ciaran, Corrigan and the prostitutes Jazzlyn and Tillie (McCann 67).
The drugs situation in the novel can be blamed on how the drugs were so free and open in this set up. The life of prostitutes in the area encouraged the free flow of drugs. This led to anyone interacting with them to get absorbed in the addiction. Petit found himself involved in drugs when he started living with prostitutes. Drugs were part of the normal life in this region and were consumed in the open. Corrigan and Stella openly lit cigarettes even in the hospital and nobody seemed to care. When Jazzlyn was down and her jacket flew open, bags of cocaine spilt out but that didn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Even the judicial system that was supposed to check on the usage of drugs in the city is seen to give in to its circulation and consumption. Clare’s husband openly confesses abandoning his hopes of administering justice as the situation in his office was more than he could handle.