Deconstructing Dialogue in The Town (part 3): exposition & theme

We’re analyzing a scene from The Town.

Read the scene.

Watch the scene.

For part 1 of this study, looking at the beats and power play between Doug and Jem, go here.

For part 2, looking at exposition, go here.

In this post we’ll explore how theme emerges from dialogue, thematic subtext from text.

Into the scene:

There’s people I can’t let you walk
away from.
What? Who?
Come on!
A beat. Doug realizes.
Are you serious, Jimmy?
She’s not my kid….
Cut it out. All you give a fuck
about is coke and Xbox and now
you’re trying to play it off you
care about Shyne, come on now!
You know what your fucking problem
You think you’re better than
Mister fucking clean, mister
fucking goddamn high and mighty,
Yeh, I’m better than all these
people, you’re right. I’m better
than anybody in this fucking
Yeah, that’s what you think, but
you grew up right here. Same rules
that I did.
OK. What else?
Who the fuck’s the father?
I know I’m not the father.
You were the one fucking her.
Yeh, and I wasn’t the only one, brother, OK?
She knew I knew I’m not the father
and I have enough respect for her
not to ask her. OK? Because I don’t
think she knows. Alright? Now I
don’t wanna shatter your illusions
here, partner, but there aren’t
enough free clinics here in
Mattapan to find out who the father
of that kid is…
DOUG (cont’d)
And I don’t know who the fuck you
think you are, either. You aren’t
letting me or not letting me do
shit. Alright? Here’s a little
fucking cheat sheet for you. Its
never gonna be me and you and your
sister and Shyne fucking playing
house up there. Alright? You got
it? Get that in your fucking head!
I’m tired of your one way fucking
bullshit. If you wanna see me
again, come down and visit me in


So, what’s going on here in the way of exposition? What are we being exposed to thematically?

Later, at the end of the scene, we find out that Jem’s family took Doug in when his dad went to prison. Doug obviously started to fuck Krista, Jem’s sister – who isn’t mentioned by name here. Krista got pregnant, had a daughter, and from this we learn that she doesn’t know who the father is. Next, Doug, in quite an eloquent way, basically tells Jem his sister was a slut:

…there aren’t enough free clinics here in Mattapan to find out who the father of that kid is.

But this section of the scene is working subtextually on two more levels – interconnected by theme.

1. Krista & Shyne.

Krista’s motherly love for her daughter Shyne is the  reason she later sacrifices her brother and Doug, giving them up to the FBI.

2. Doug’s mother.

When Doug asks his dad, on a visit to prison, why he didn’t look for his mother when she walked out on them, Doug’s dad says  ‘because there was ‘nothing to find.’

He infers because Doug’s mother was no different to all the other single parent girls he sees on  the projects ‘fucking around’ – was no different, in fact, to Krista.

So, underlying this section of dialogue, ostensibly conflict between Doug and Jem about the identity of Shyne’s father, is one of The Town’s major themes: parenthood and its absence.


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