Scope This essay provides an imagined event that happened before and after what is portrayed in the painting. This essay also includes the components of a “summary abstract” which are the findings, analysis, conclusions, recommendations, and follow up.
Purpose This argument essay analyzes Hopper’s painting from “Nighthawk” (1942).
Methodology The painting of Hopper was shown by this student/writer to four people of different ages and backgrounds. These questions were asked: As you look at the painting, what comes to your mind? What reminds you of the painting? If you are reminded of something, can you make a story similar to what you are reminded about? Look at the waiter, are his eyes directly in contact with the man beside the woman? Who is the man? Why is he old and not a young waiter? Who is the woman? What is she doing in the middle of the night with suspicious-looking men? What is about to happen and what will happen beyond what is shown by the painting?
After they have answered the questions, they were asked by this writer/student to agree to come up with a central story coming from their individual viewpoints. The responses of the subjects were captured and combined into a story—similar to one they were reminded about a movie entitled “The Untouchables.” The story is presented in this essay similar to what Strand’s and Oate’s method in interpreting Hopper’s painting and coming up with their individual pieces—an essay and a poem.
Thesis statement The grand plan of the night has been designed and is about to be executed by the loyal followers of a notorious gang in downtown Chicago who are now well positioned to act accordingly—capture a prized victim and deliver it to the master; however, a protector emerges in the scene and interferes at the exact moment of the plan execution and saves the target.
Findings, Observations, Interpretations, Analysis It is now late in the night and the lone establishment left awake to serve a few partakers of a grand plan is Phyllies. Place: downtown Chicago. Time: circa 1950s. A few minutes ago some regular Phyllies customers were in the popular coffee shop to exchange opinions about the recent disappearance of one woman in the area. Not knowing all who enter in the establishment, the unsuspecting customers left four characters who will partake in another crime statistics committed tonight and recorded by an aging customer servant. The men wearing dark suits are waiting for the right time and moment to act on their plan. Their targeted would-be victim is now practically in their hands. And it’s just a matter of time when they will complete their service for their master—a notorious mafia leader.
The man whose back is facing the wide glass window, sits quietly and calmly on his stool while watching unfailingly at the back of his leader sitting beside their target. His eyes could not be met by someone; but he sees the actions of others in front of him. He doesn’t talk either; he only watches; and acts to protect the interests of his group; he never failed on his many assignments; and not also tonight.
The man beside the pretty and lovely woman is the leader of the two-man gang. He has now successfully lured his target to go with him inside the establishment—a starting of countless unresolved female disappearances in the locality for many years now. He is a calculating man and he knows exactly what he is doing. He knows the rules. He is aware of his every move. He has just consumed his brewed coffee and in the middle of a cigarette. After gently and briefly clasping the soft hand of the woman, telling her to stay cool and easy, he gropes something beside him—a slim, vertical traveling bag containing his professional tools. He asks the old man, “how is business tonight, old man?” in a monotonous, hoarse, and low voice. The owner does not say a word but responds by meeting the eyes of the man with his while pretending to be busy putting back the glass wares in their places. He has seen this man entered his establishment many times and has responded to him the same way repeatedly with the same question. The old man knows something is going to happen tonight and it is going be similar to those that have happened in the past—another disappearance starting in his coffee shop. This man is a servant of untouchables and he is determined to deliver his services to his master tonight.
The woman beside the man belongs to the man’s rival mafia. She started to feel uneasy and nervous after the man whispered something to her earlier that undermined her behavior so that her grin does not impress any one anymore of her gorgeous looks. The man beside him seems to operate time under his total control like a machinist operating a lathe machine step by step until a finished product is made. A while ago, she tried to use her feminine power to influence the man’s action but only to be overpowered by the disciplined and cold response of the man beside her who now commands every second of her life. She likes to scream for help but she realizes she’s like a helpless captive fawn beside her captor—an unforgiving lion. She knows her fate is already sealed and cannot do anything else; hence, she pretends to participate in the conversation of the two men.
The moment of truth arrived when the lead man held the wrist of the woman and stood from his seat pulling gently the woman and asked her to go out with him. “One more time, old man, see you again,” he says to the old man who responded only with a brief eye contact then turned his attention to the glass ware shelves pretending to continue working.
The lead man instructed his accomplice and lookout to take his bag while he and the woman motioned to go out of the establishment. Passing the old man a couple of feet, a loud gun shot burst. The terrified woman screamed and stood frozen while the gun smoke enveloped her; the man holding her wrist fell down beside her. After a few seconds another deafening gun shot was fired this time at the second man who also felled instantaneously.
When the police came to Phyllies two bodies laid cold and dead on the floor bearing fatal gunshot wounds in each head. But the father and daughter disappeared from the scene and would not be seen again.
Conclusion As Mark Strand has written in his essay on Hopper’s work: “there is a story to be told” about every great painting being viewed and scrutinized, this student now believes the power of fine arts in eliciting deep emotions and that can “keep viewers looking and wanting to know more” about a particular work of art.
Recommendation I personally recommend to every individual to scrutinize this great and very interesting painting of Hopper that has the power to stimulate imagination as others and myself have experienced and which I wrote in this essay.
Follow Up I plan to go back to my subjects and show them again the same painting and want to find out if their reactions would be the same as what are gathered for the story.
Hopper, Edward (1942). Night Hawk. (Publisher not available), pp. 176-124.