In this part of the book, the setting probably plays the most important place. Tracy gets in contact with the animal, inhuman side of people when she has to bear the cruelty of the other women in prison: "The three women were watching her, observing her with such insistence that she felt as if she were naked. Fresh meat. She felt terrified all of a sudden."(Sheldon, 73) Even from her first night there, she is abused and beaten by her cell mates and, as a result, she loses her baby. At the beginning, Tracy's mind is so unaccustomed to the concept of evil and baseness, that she tries to soothe her mind into believing she is only imagining perils and menaces: "She was a nervous wreck and everything seemed menacing to her. Had her mates really menaced her? No, not really. She saw sinister intentions in an attitude that was probably only friendly."(Sheldon, 80) Tracy had obviously never been in contact with actual cruelty before.
The interesting thing about Tracy's time in prison however is the fact that she not only manages to survive there, but that she already becomes a different, stronger person. When she is locked away in the dark for a week, as part of her punishment detention, Tracy somehow succeeds in finding the necessary strength to face the other women in the prison and her own circumstances at the same time. Driven by her desire to see justice done, she exercises her body and her spirit at the same time, through special, Oriental techniques, which finally give her the strength to face her surroundings. Thus, Tracy wins an important victory over the environment in which she has to live, emerging from her fight as a different person. At the same time, she does not become indifferent and hardened like the other women in the penitentiary. She becomes stronger, but she preserves her sensibility, only pretending to carelessness when she sees the atrocities that take place around her. Thus, Tracy is still affected when she has to hear at night the screams of those who are weaker and thus are made to suffer by the stronger ones. The force of the setting is unarguably a baffling one in Tracy's case. The prison with its own specific, closed world, teaches her an important lesson is humanity and its negative side: "The jail had a music of its own: the bells, the shuffling of feet on the concrete floor, the clang of the metal doors, the whispering during the day, the screaming during the night..."(Sheldon, 110) it is this setting that actually transforms Tracy, rather than what happens to her as such.
Tracy is however kept going by her plan of getting her revenge. Despite the fact that she has so little perspective of her dreary future that she cannot even be certain of the fact that tomorrow will even arrive for her, Tracy manages to keep her hopes alive, living in the certainty that she will have a chance to find her revenge: "They will pay. All of them. She had no idea how she will do it, but she knew she will get her revenge. 'Tomorrow, she thought. If tomorrow comes."(Sheldon, 85) Although she is completely alone in a world in which she cannot trust anyone or rely on anyone, and although she is even uncertain whether she will survive the next day, Tracy finds the necessary resources to fight against her surroundings and hope for a realization of her plans.
The fact that her humaneness is still intact despite the harsh environment she comes in contact with is evident in the gesture that actually liberates her from prison. Precisely on the day that she had planned her escape, Tracy saves the life of a little Amy, whom she was in charge of. When the girl falls into a pond and is ready to drown, Tracy, although desperate to escape, misses her chance and chooses to save the girl's life instead. She thus acts instinctively and humanely, and for this she is finally liberated from prison by the governor of Louisiana.
Once outside, Tracy has been already completely transformed by the environment in which she had been made to live. Stronger...
Pursuing her purpose of revenge, she cleverly manipulates the people that had contributed to her fall and manages to take her revenge on all of them. Thus, the extent to which the setting contributes to the changes of character in the novel is evident. Tracy begins a new life, and is now among the corrupt. Nevertheless, she is not corrupt herself in the real sense of the world. After she fulfills her revenge, Tracy has already entered the circle of the one that break the law. She however acts rather as the one who seeks justice and tries to enforce it. With her new friend, Gunther Hartog, Tracy enters the world of the con-men that rob the rich and corrupt people. Gradually thus, Tracy manages to enter the world of outlaws herself. Again the setting is crucial for her evolution as a character. More than the continuous adventure she is put through, it is the contact with this world that makes Tracy even more powerful. Thus, apparently, after having been in prison, Tracy learns how to actually break the law. On a deeper lever of analysis however, it is clear that her actions are justified by her purpose. The things that she steals only hurt the rich and corrupt people that do a lot of evil themselves: "They exploit the working class, cheat the government, raid successful companies, surely you can put their money to better use."(Sheldon, 258) Tracy thus extends her revenge from those that have harmed her, to all those that are as corrupt as they are.
Moreover, in this new life and in this new setting, Tracy meets a character that is as adventurous and cunning as she has now become, who will eventually become her husband. Jeff Stevens has himself been deceived in his romance with his former wife Louise, who had been very unfaithful to him. Thus, both Tracy and Jeff seem to have been the victims of their credulity. They had both encountered at some point the perfect, rich partner who had later betrayed their confidence. Thus, Tracy's life and character is completely transformed by the environment in which she lives. From the ingenuous young woman who almost married a perfect but too boring and meticulous man, she has become a daring and strong woman, who has learnt to find the excitement in her own life. She marries a totally nonconformist man, the type that she would have probably never imagined before. It is only now however that she is truly happy, after having known misfortune and pain, and with a man that is not perfect as Charles had seemed to her at first, but who truly loves her to the point of risking his life for her.
Thus, in if Tomorrow Comes, the setting plays a major role. Engulfed even from the beginning in a game in which money and power were the main protagonists, Tracy begins to know her own world only when she is confronted with it in the most radical way possible. Her experiences and her environment, in prison and outside, show Tracy the negative and sometimes extremely painful sides of life, but at the same time, they make her value her own life and liberty and recognize the truly important values in life. The setting transforms Tracy, as she is swept away against her will in a whirlpool of events and adventures that shape her character. She is definitely changed in the end, but she is also wiser and braver. Tracy is thus faced with her own destiny and with the world in which she had carelessly lived before. Sheldon thus shows an instance of how the environment can completely change the life and, to a great extent, the personality of an individual. The effect is even stronger in the case of Tracy who had led a perfect and common life before. She thus learns how to live on the edge, without having any certainty of the future. In her world, money and power are the main rulers. When Tracy becomes an active part of this environment herself and not a mere pawn, she is obviously transformed as a person.
Sidney Sheldon thus gives an account of the hidden world of the mafia that lies just beneath the surface of the common existence, showing how the life of an individual can be completely transformed through the power of the environment.
Sheldon, Sidney. If Tomorrow Comes. New York:…
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