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University at Buffalo Libraries

George Kelley Paperback & Pulp Fiction Collection

Don't Cry For Me

cover image By: Gault, William Campbell (male)
Publisher: Dell Publishing Co., Inc. (672)
Place of Publication: New York, NY
Catalog #: Kelley Box 566: PS3557 .A948 D66 1952
Contributor: J. Lukin


Era: 1950s Author as on Cover: William Campbell Gault Geographic Locale: Los Angeles, California and environs Date of Publication: 1952  |  Original Date: 1952 Setting: urban and suburban; a middle-class suburban home, a crime boss's mansion, and various haunts of the demimonde: the track, an urban apartment house, a junkie's home Motives: the murder of blackmailers by their victim

Plot Summary

The black sheep of a prominent southern California family, Pete Worden enjoys his downwardly-mobile life. He sees himself as more perceptive than his conventionally bourgeois brother and more honest than the crooks and lowlifes whose company he frequents. But Pete is starting to weary of his hip, fast-living style and of resting on the laurels of his college football career. If he can find honest work on his own terms, he'll be happy to propose to his big-bosomed girlfriend and settle down. Unfortunately, his respectable ambitions are thwarted by the discovery of a dead junkie in his apartment. In the interest of justice and self-preservation, Pete embarks upon a search for the killer, but his independent nature chafes at an alliance with the forces of order, be they the cops or the local crime boss. And while he's having some success in the profession of amateur detective, his other fortunes decline. Ultimately he discovers that his brother's respectability and his girlfriend's loyalty are shams, and that he must find his own authenticity rather than rely on the supposed stability of others.

Major Characters

Peter Lance Worden adult male, 29 years old, gambler and ex-football player, self-described "middlebrow"

Sergeant Hovde adult male, big Scandinavian-American, short blonde hair, high cheekbones, cold eyes, police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department

Nick Arnold n Nicholas Arapopulos, adult male, middle-aged L.A. crime boss hoping to go legit

Ellen Gallegher adult female, mid-twenties, thin, black hair, dark blue eyes, "top-heavy" department store clerk

Vicki Lincoln adult female, "plaster-faced blonde," junkie with underworld allegiances

Al Calvano adult male, dark pockmarked complexion, muddy brown eyes, a thuggish drug dealer

Tommy Lister adult male, small and slight with big brown eyes and pale skin, a brilliant man and pulp novelist

Mary Gonzales adult female, 29 years old, "a well-shaped girl," with black hair and olive skin, occupation unrevealed

Level of Violence

two hand-to-hand fights and two fatal stabbings; the former played for suspense, the latter to arouse fear and disgust


all relations are heterosexual. Sex with or without love is presented as acceptable; sex for manipulative purposes is not. Protagonist Pete is the only man we see getting any, although he meets a couple of women who seem to be in abusive relationships.

Gender Roles

honest working, self-made men are respected, as is the toughness of the soldier and the (male) athlete. For women, work is generally a temporary stage in life prior to marriage. The proper role for a woman seems to be a relationship based on loyalty to her man.


the chief criminals are a Greek and an Italian. Other characters whose ethnicity is specified include an Irish beauty, a Swedish cop, and a poor but kindly pair of Mexicans.

Alcohol/Drug Abuse

most drinking is social; drug users are pitiable and violent; dealers are contemptible. The hero is incapacitated by a small quantity of cannabis; the serious druggies in the novel use smack.

Law Enforcement

the police are kind, cooperative, and as competent as anyone else.

Subject Headings

California - Los Angeles/ Heroin/ Drug addiction/ Murder/ Marijuana

Psychological Elements

psychopathology is not an issue, except in the case of the heroin-obsessed junkies. In general, the wrongdoers of the novel are perfectly sane -- just hypocritical and mercenary.