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George Kelley Paperback & Pulp Fiction Collection

Cassidy's Girl

cover image By: Goodis, David (male)
Publisher: Fawcett Publications, Inc. (Gold Medal Books - 189)
Place of Publication: New York, NY
Catalog #: Kelley Box 259: PS3513 .O499 C37 1951
Contributor: R. Brandt


Era: 1950s Author as on Cover: David Goodis Geographic Locale: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Date of Publication: 1951  |  Original Date: 1951 Setting: urban; Delaware River waterfront Motives: jealousy, lust, revenge

Plot Summary

Jim Cassidy is a hard-drinking ex-airline pilot who makes his living driving a bus between Philadelphia and Easton, Pennsylvania. His wife, Mildred, knows how to drive him crazy, and does so, frequently. He comes home after work one day to find his apartment showing the after-effects of a wild party and there is blood on the floor. He learns that the blood belongs to his friend, Shealy, who had gotten into a fight with a man who was making passes at Mildred. He also finds out that Mildred is leaving him for the man, Haney Kenrick. After he and Kenrick fight in a bar, Cassidy meets -- and falls for -- Doris, a frail alcoholic who tends to his wounds. As Cassidy struggles to break free from Mildred and rescue Doris from her alcoholism, he continues to be hounded by Kenrick, who is seeking revenge for the beating he took in the fight. Kenrick causes Cassidy to crash his bus, killing all of the passengers, and then frames him by forcing whiskey down his throat so that the cops think he was driving drunk. After Cassidy escapes from police custody, he makes a last desperate and futile attempt to leave the country with Doris.

Major Characters

Haney Kenrick adult male, fat shiny face, sparse light-brown hair greased down, slightly above medium height, door-to-door salesman of household goods

James Cassidy "Jim," adult male, 36 years old, stocky, wide muscular shoulders, flat stomach, thick legs, curly blonde hair, dark gray eyes, broken nose, red leathery skin; bus driver (background in mechanical engineering; former airline pilot)

Mildred Cassidy adult female, 32 years old, heavy black hair, brandy-colored eyes, long eyelashes, large breasts and hips, gorgeous nose; part-time hairdresser

Doris adult female, 27 years old, small, thin (95 lbs.), fragile, pale, plain, mild, yellow hair, pale gray eyes, pretty; unemployed (full-time alcoholic)

Shealy adult male, 40 years old, white hair, ship chandler salesman

Spann adult male, lean, waterfront idler

Pauline adult female, shaped like a toothpick with a face the color of a blank newspaper; Spann's girlfriend


fists, alcohol

Level of Violence

the violence in this novel is portrayed almost exclusively in terms of physical fights between characters. Cassidy fights with Mildred in their bedroom, numerous times. He fights with Haney Kenrick in a bar; Kenrick retaliates by hiring three thugs to work Cassidy over. Kenrick then "attacks" Cassidy while he is driving his bus, causing it to crash. When Cassidy attempts to escape the murder charge on a boat leaving for South Africa, Mildred comes to him and smashes a thick glass ashtray over his head.


sex, along with alcohol, is one of the major motivating factors in this novel. The whole basis of Cassidy's marriage is sexual. He hates Mildred, but she is able to hold him in her power because of his lust for her. Their sexual encounters are always violent, usually beginning with Mildred teasing Cassidy, then rejecting him. Cassidy reacts to the rejection with physical violence, Mildred retaliates, and they end up in bed. In most cases, their sexual encounters would be classified as rape. By contrast, Cassidy's sexual encounter with Doris is described in terms of gentleness, warmth and happiness.

Gender Roles

gender roles do not play a significant role in this novel and are, for the most part, traditional. However, Mildred is quite a fighter and seems to more than hold her own in her fights with Cassidy. Even though he practically rapes her at one point, the underlying sense is that she allowed him to think he was forcing himself on her.


not applicable

Alcohol/Drug Abuse

alcohol is one of the major motivating factors in the novel. All of the characters consume enormous amounts of liquor; most of them would be classified as alcoholics. Doris is definitely an alcoholic. She does nothing but drink. She and Cassidy both drink to escape from past personal tragedies: Doris caused the deaths of her husband and children by starting a fire while smoking in bed; Cassidy was the pilot of an airplane that crashed, killing most of its passengers. After Haney Kenrick causes Cassidy to crash his bus, he uses alcohol as a weapon by forcing it down Cassidy's throat so that he will be accused of driving drunk.

Law Enforcement

law enforcement does not play a significant role in this novel. Cassidy is arrested after the bus crash, but he escapes from custody and forces Kenrick to confess to setting him up before the cops ever catch up to him.

Subject Headings

Pennsylvania (Philadelphia)/ Buses/ Alcohol/ Alcoholism/ Revenge/ Jealousy/ Violence

Psychological Elements

substance abuse (alcoholism) is rampant. All of the characters drink far too much and most of the action revolves around the influence of alcohol on the characters.