Study Guide

The Lost Weekend Setting

Setting

New York City

Don Birnam had Big City dreams when he first moved to The Big Apple, but like many a dreamer, he quickly came down with a case "little fish in a big pond" syndrome. As such, he spends most of his time in The Lost Weekend swimming between two adequately-sized kiddie pools: his brother Wick's apartment, and his regular haunt, Nat's Bar.

A Portrait of the Drinker as a Young Man

Within New York City, we spend the bulk of our time at Wick's apartment. Note that we call it Wick's apartment, not Don's—we all know which brother pays the bills. Though it's a swanky place, it descends into chaos as Don descends into his boozy bender, its disheveled appearance reflecting our protagonist's inner turmoil.

Naturally, Don spends the rest of his time at Nat's Bar. He's a regular there and has a comic repartee with Nat, which emphasizes the social aspect of his alcoholism that isn't immediately apparent when he's isolated at home.

Unfortunately for Don, he's banned from even this safe space after Nat tires of the shady way that he treats women. It also doesn't hurt that our man is broke as a joke, either.

The Hangover

Soon after that, Don ends up at the alcoholic ward, where he sees the potential consequences of his alcoholism. The ward's a rough place. It's a dark room filled with uncomfortable looking beds and uncomfortable looking people. There's screaming and shouting. There are mean security guards.

And, according to Bim the nurse, this is where Don will be fated to return to forever:

BIM: You'll be back.

DON: Oh, shut up.

BIM: Listen, I can pick an alkie with one eye shut. You're an alkie. You'll come back. They all do.

The end of the film sees Don turning away from alcohol, so we can only hope that he never sees the nasty walls of that ward ever again. Regardless, it's only by experiencing them firsthand that Don is finally able to recognize the consequences of his boozy actions.

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