A CLIMATE OF VIOLENCE by Russell O'Neil

A CLIMATE OF VIOLENCE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An increasingly novel-worthy theme, rape, is put to fictional use and again a multiple offense (Richard Frede's harder-hitting Entry E) is followed down through the trial to determine the guilt, or in this case, guilt by proxy, of three youngsters- a 12- and two 17-year old boys who violate the 16-year-old daughter of the town whore. While the fact that ida Praul hasn't a chance in life to begin with (""she ain't nobody"" as one of the boys says), still they are guilty of the crime and the best that defending attorney Herzog can do is to try and reduce the maximum sentence for the offense by turning the jury's hostility toward the complainant. Of the three youngsters, Johnny Taylor is a likable boy, from a solid family, and sympathy is enlisted for his father, John, trying to protect his rather prim wife, Mary, and a younger sister, Lois. In time however, as the action proceeds through the unhappy repercussions in the town, etc., it is seen that Taylor's attempt to shy away from the truth which- unlike the sentence- cannot be mitigated, is all part of the larger liability- his parental inadequacy....In spite of what must be necessarily sexually blunt (or shocking) detail, particularly when articulated in the courtroom by awkward adolescents, one can assume that the play here is for sympathy rather than sensation. It is too bad that the means (i.e. very ordinary writing and no particular skill) do not justify the end which is a valid argument.

Publisher: Appleton-Century-Crofts