Home > Fiction, Mario Puzo > The Dark Arena – Truly Dark

The Dark Arena – Truly Dark

The book begins with a quote from Brother Karamazov and tells what happens to people who cannot love.Walter Mosca is an American GI and goes to Germany for his girl Hella. He dumps his girl Gloria and doesn’t bother for his mother or brother, who is now maimed, and cares not for the people he killed, he holds pride in his job.

It is those times when American cigarette can buy anything – gold, woman for the night, drinks, food and even a bouquet – name it and cigarettes will get them for you. It is the time when you can escape killing a man but not for taking care of a woman. They are hard times after war; the love is desperate. There is no marriage law. War has made victims of the soldiers. They lack any compassion for lost human lives, for the woman who runs after the POW trucks with stretched hands wanting the last touch of her man, for the German labour who lick on American cigarette, for …

Mosca is passionate for Hella but lacks compassion. He is so insouciant. Though he cares for Hella, he can’t love her. He does his best to keep her happy but fails to make it in the end. He is not there for her when she delivers their first child and not when she breathes her last. A sad tale that ends with Walter seeking revenge and realising that he has nothing left that he had, not even love.

Unlike Puzo’s The Godfather, which glorifies Vitto Carleone despite his fearful commanding, this one makes a sadist out of Walter Mosca for his lack of human compassion. The Godfather worked killing humans for he could not digest the pain they inflicted on others; Mosca kills men, loves none and losses it all – even his respect. The only other work that I read by him is Godfather and this(The Dark Arena) is indeed a contrasting and sad read. As you finish Godfather you feel sad for Vitto’s death, but are relieved for Michal’s takeover. Hella’s passing though makes you sad, it leaves you with no sympathy for Mosca, for he himself feels none.

If you cannot love, you will be left with nothing. If you cannot care, you will not receive anything. You will yearn for death but it will not come to you. That’s how the book begins and that is the message it gives in the end.

Categories: Fiction, Mario Puzo
  1. March 30, 2007 at 3:57 am

    You have such a wonderful flow of writing. I simply love it. I just saw Godfather part 1 and happened to read your blog about Mario Puzzo. There is a magic in your writing. You use the words as if someone is breathing in and out and again in andagain out.


  2. June 13, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    Nice blog.

    I have read The Dark Arena (TDA) twice but i too have the same problem of forgetting a lot of details of things I read. The first time I read TDA, the Puzo Godfather reputation was still in its ascendent phase not as hegemonic as it appears today and especially in orkut books.

    I hunted out and bought my copy of TDA last year or so and read it again.

    It is dark no doubt, but I still think, this is the best thing Puzo ever wrote. I also had this impression, not certain how strong or vague it was that it had elements of Hemingway’s love story set in the first war , cannot recollect the name now.

    Though, right now I feel, that American victory over the Germans represents the darker veins of love, in this context, the hold of power. It would be important to point that Mosca did love the German woman and that was one of his main reasons for getting back to Germany and disregard of his family. A second reading could be the message of anti-war, and that Mosca was traumatised by it and therefore need to be in the arena again in his capacity as victor. I dont know how clear or unclear this sounds but it can be taken to mean the trajectory of a love affair, from attrition to victory over the woman.

  3. November 20, 2008 at 1:28 am

    I just finished reading this book and did a google search to see what others thought. Not much to be found. I agree with Satya, in that I find it to be remarkable work. It’s incredibly dark and Walter is unpleasant, but the conveyance of his apathetic nature is wonderful.

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