Study Guide

Black Mass: Whitey Bulger, the FBI, and a Devil's Deal Visions of Southie

By Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill

Visions of Southie

South Boston—or Southie as it's called by those in the know—is a place unlike any other. Defined by its Irish-American population, Southie is very definition of "mean streets."

Residents hate outsiders, love the church, and believe that there's no greater crime than ratting out your neighbors. When prominent men like Whitey Bulger enter the scene, however, there's little that residents can do to stand his way, especially when Bulger has all the neighborhood's leaders in his back pocket.

As a result, the Southie depicted in Black Mass is one littered with contradictions, contradictions that are nowhere more evident than where Bulger is concerned.

Questions About Visions of Southie

  1. How is Southie shaped by the neighborhood's Irish-American roots?
  2. How does Southie change over the period depicted in the book?
  3. What is the net effect of Bulger's criminal activity on Southie? How does he manage to retain control for so long?
  4. How does class play into South Boston's self-image?

Chew on This

Southie's Irish-American ethnic roots make it especially hostile to outsiders who share a different culture than its own.

Although South Boston clearly suffers during Whitey' reign of power, there's hope for it to grow stronger now that he's been brought to justice.