In 1941, Barton Fink's first Broadway theater play, ''Bare Ruined Choirs'', has achieved critical and popular success. His agent informs him that Capitol Pictures in Hollywood has offered him a thousand dollars per week to write film scripts. Barton hesitates, worried that moving to California would separate him from "the common man", his focus as a writer. He accepts the offer, however, and checks into the Hotel Earle, a large and unusually deserted building. His room is sparse and draped in subdued colors; its only decoration is a small painting of a woman on the beach, arm raised to block the sun.