City-State: What’s its purpose?

When I first began reading Tram 83, there was something unique to the storyline that peaked my interest. That being the setting which directly takes place in a train station where there is an unfinished and broken down feel. Yet City-State itself embodies its own emptiness of a whirlwind of chaos of being a purposeless cityscape. Some examples of this depicted environment are the following quotes.

“The City-State was written by her gigolos, her baby chicks, her diggers, her four-star whorehouses, her dissident rebels ready to imprison you, her prospectors, her semi-tourists. Lucien rushed into the night, his imitation-leather bag slung across his body. Tourist Street, Independence Street, International Armistice Street, Gravedigger Street, Mineral Street, Copper Street, First Revolution Street, True and Sincere Revolution Street..”(Mujila, 96).

This quote brings up points in which this society strives off of, both on the Tram and in City-State the presence of prostitution and sexualization of women in straightforward. However, this place my be for them to belong and flaunt their promiscuous lifestyle. An ideal purpose to City-State is to take in the outcasts and misfits of the world and be this somewhat safe haven. The presence of street names in this quote almost makes it clear that City-State is much more than perceived helping move the story along with just the relatable also proving this setting has more promise to it.


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“As time passed, he adjusted his decree to two days, then one, then two hours, reasoning that the processing plants for the minerals so dear to the tourists require more electrical power, that the inhabitants of City-State don’t have much need for it, and the machinery meant to be supplying this power is rusting under the weight of the years…” (Mujila, 73).

“They’ll wake up one morning and realize the City-State no longer exists. The City-State will be a distant memory , the vestige of a …. Even now, the City-State exists only in name” (Mujila, 60).

The purpose of having City-State seems to be meaningless. Mujila states how even those who live in could care less about it. Tourists become the most prominent of the setting and make a name for themselves there. City-State truly means nothing rather it is just a place that has no reason to be recognized since it has nothing to better the world. Yet by including it in the novel, there must be a hidden reason for it. There is this idea continually mentioned that surrounds itself in text based around the idea of City-State and it discusses this “unfinished metal structure” which is only one characteristic to this setting. Using this to fully view, City-State that metal structure is just one fragment of this broken down society that no one wants to make better and it creates this sort of emptiness inside all the real inhabitants.

Mujila wrote this setting up to make the reader think the City-State has no purpose based on the word choice of being stated. However, the purpose of City-State is in the hands of the reader for interpretation of its true potential. Only my view is that it is a bigger catalyst to the emptiness and broken down social structure.

So ultimately it is up to you to find the true purpose.


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