Studs Lonigan was written in realistic style, simillar to that of Theodore Dreiseer. Yet where Dreisser wrote stylishly, Farrells's prose seems simplistic and crude and his dialogue filled with cliches. The Suds Lonigan story would fit in well with Dos Passo's USA trilogy.
From a social prespective is where Studs Lonigan gets its fame. Its indictment of working class Irish immigrants and the Catholic church must have been, at the time, very controversial. One can draw parralels of the life of Studs Lonigan and his ultimate fate to black youths in today's inner cities.
The first book starts with the graduation of Studs from middle school. During the summer after his graduation the two most important acheivements in Studs'life occur- (1) he defeats a local tough in a fist fight and (2) he kisses the girl he idolizes. For the rest of his life Studs, tries to replicate those two events.
In Book 2 Studs effectively seals his fate by boozing and carousing, to the detriment of both his psyche and his health. By the end of Book 2, Studs' future prospects have all but been eliminated and his reputation in his own mind as a tough guy is ruined when he is beaten up at a party by the very youth that Studs had beaten up as a youngster. His attempts at finding a good woman are crude and ineffective.
By Book 3 Studs is demoralized and physically ill. His tough guy image is further depleted when his younger brother beats Studs up. Also in Book 3, the Depression has all but ruined Stud's chance to reach any kind of financial security. Even though Studs finds a nice girl who he plans to wed, he is too far gone in both spirit and body to recover.