AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY 1925 BY THEODORE DREISER PDF

As a young adult, Clyde must, to help support his family, take menial jobs as a soda jerk , then a bellhop at a prestigious Kansas City hotel. There, his more sophisticated colleagues introduce him to bouts of social drinking and sex with prostitutes. Enjoying his new lifestyle, Clyde becomes infatuated with manipulative Hortense Briggs, who persuades him to buy her expensive gifts. When Clyde learns Hortense goes out with other men, he becomes jealous. Still Clyde would rather spend money on Hortense than to help his sister, who had eloped, only to end up pregnant and abandoned by her lover. Fleeing from the police at high speed, Sparser crashes the car.

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Dreiser created a poignant yet powerful novel of youthful loneliness in industrial society and of the American mirage that beckons some of the young to disaster. For years Dreiser had been collecting news accounts about desperate young men who had tried to rid themselves of passing love affairs by violence. The case of Chester Gillette particularly fascinated him.

Discovered and apprehended almost immediately, Gillette was electrocuted at Auburn Penitentiary in March For this story, Dreiser scrutinized the official court records and the many newspaper reports of the Gillette-Brown case, explored Herkimer County, and inspected Sing Sing, gathering thousands of impressions and details. The chief tenet of such literary naturalists as Stephen Crane, Frank Norris, Jack London, and Theodore Dreiser is that man is a helpless pawn of his heredity and his environment, a creature caught in the web of causation and chance.

Although Clyde has seemingly successful moments, his life is basically one of suffering. Because of his deficient thought and weak will, Clyde is the protagonist-victim not of a "tragic" but of a "pathetic" plot, and in keeping with the naturalistic-pathetic plot, human frailty and futility pervade An American Tragedy. Both the "pathetic" individual and the "tragic" civilization loom large in this novel. And we see in Clyde the decline of belief, the growth of the secular ethic, and the fragmentation of his personality.

Although its classic one hundred chapters are divided into three disproportionate books of nineteen, forty-seven, and thirty-four chapters, the ponderous whole is tensely unified. Again, he contrasts the photographic world-as-it-is with the visionary world-as-it-might-be. Our literary sensibilities might even be offended when, for example, we see Clyde Griffiths "beat a hasty retreat.

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