Does this explain, perhaps, the desolate emptiness of city youth — those straggling bands of boys of sixteen or eighteen that one can always see at night or on a holiday, going along a street, filling the air with raucous jargon and senseless cries, each trying to outdo the others with joyless catcalls and mirthless quips and jokes which are so feeble, so stupidly inane, that one hears them with strong mixed feelings of pity and of shame? Where here, among these lads, is all the merriment, high spirits, and spontaneous gaiety of youth? These creatures, millions of them, seem to have been born but half-made up, without innocence, born old and stale and dull and empty.
Who can wonder at it? For what a world it is that most of them were born into! They were suckled on darkness, and weaned on violence and noise. They had to try to draw out moisture from the cobble-stones, their true parent was a city street, and in that barren universe no urgent sails swelled out and leaned against the wind, they rarely knew the feel of earth beneath their feet and no birds sang, their youthful eyes grew hard, unseeing, from being stopped for ever by a wall of masonry.
-Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t Go Home Again, New York, Harper & Row, 1938, p. 333.