Robert and Gloria meet on Melrose, in between Paramount Studios and Western Ave. As mentioned in class, the word “Western” and its repeated use (7) show a significance beyond the street name. Robert and Gloria’s walk to Western reminds us of the larger journey both have made from unsatisfying homes to “the West” (aka Los Angeles.) The fact that the “Western” they actually reach is just a street brings up the theme of dream deflation and disillusionment. Just as Robert can picture himself driving down Melrose in a fancy car when he is actually on his feet, his dream of gaining the wealth and fame from the West is a stark contrast to the Avenue that is actually no different from the one he is walking on. Los Angeles is, for some, not the name of a city but the symbol of a good life. Just as Western is just a street name, Los Angeles is just a city and not the answer to every flighty vision.
In the first two pages of the couple’s “relationship” (whatever that may be), the reader is given an image of both the ideal life of riches and prosperity (Paramount Studios, which Robert is appropriately walking away from in dejection) and the century-old way of seeking the goal (heading to the West). It is significant that Gloria is trudging along with the still hopeful Robert only because she missed her bus. (“I may as well walk on down to Western,” she says on p.7.) The dynamic between Robert’s optimism and Gloria’s lack of faith is maintained throughout the novel.
“It was funny the way I met Gloria. She was trying to get into the pictures too, but I didn’t know that until later. I was walking down Melrose one day from the Paramount studios when I heard somebody hollering, ‘Hey! Hey!’ and I turned around and there she was running towards me and waving. I stopped, waving back. When she got up to me she was all out of breath and excited and I saw I didn’t know her.
‘Damn that bus,’ she said" (7)