Within the first chapters of the novel “On the Line”, readers encounter young men with working able bodies, each with their own ambition and goals. LeRoy is a black southerner who migrated up North to New York to pursue a singing career, Kevin is an Irish immigrant who came to America to fulfill the American Dream, and Walter is an educated man working to finance himself through college. Though their goals sound both reasonable and obtainable, this novel works in tragedy into all of their lives via their place of employment. Of their stories LeRoys would have to be the most tragic for it his place of employment that completely murders his dreams
Moving up to New York City with the hopes to become an Opera singer, LeRoy knew that he would need a job in order to survive. Upon obtaining the job at the car factory, he decided to combine his required labor with his future career; he would practice his vocal notes and songs while in his work area and sneak glances into his lunch box, which contained musical paper from which he was to study from, whenever possible. Much to the displeasure to his coworkers, LeRoys singing is an entity that to them does not belong in their work place because music is often considered a tool of enjoyment, amusement, and leisure. At the same time they may note his talent, for his known by those close to him as having a ‘Golden Throat’, and envy his talents for they may see the prosperity which can result from it. Though the latter is not inferred in the story, is it a reality of the world; those who have talent which can be easily spotted are often envied for if they improve or master such a talent the prospect of wealth is undeniable.
Tragedy strikes LeRoy in a freak accident in which his throat is slashed, thus, both literally and metaphorically, disabling/ destroying the tool which his future wealthy could have flowed in from. The imagery provided by the novel of LeRoy “slipping in his blood as he tried to rise up” and of the “ocean of pain was rising to film over the clarity of the scene” that was before him, work to show not only the gravity of the situation but also cause a sense of helpless for LeRoy within the readers (19). It is disturbing to see someone seemingly deserving of greatness fall to such a tragedy.