Free Study Guide for An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser|
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AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY FREE BOOK SUMMARY
While it isnít stated point blank, we may assume the cigar store employee
that Hortense ran off with was Charlie Wilkens. Dreiser overtly plays
with the idea of an inevitability to the American tragedy of the title,
as the last paragraph of the chapter indicates that Clydeís aspirations
to a more circumspect and restrained life is beyond his personality to
Clyde believes what held him back from success is his lack of education. Soon after starting at the Union League, Clyde is informed by Ratterer of an arrival to Chicago and the club: Samuel Griffiths. Clyde is anxious of what Samuel would think of him, a bell-hop. After spying on him from a distance, Clyde delivers letters to Samuelís room and introduces himself as a relation. Samuel feels bad about Asa, who was physically and mentally less fit than Samuel or their older brother Allen. Where Samuel and Allen inherited most of their fatherís property, Asa received a mere one thousand dollars.
Asked about his fatherís current activities, Clyde lies: he says they run
a church with a lodging house, both of which are prospering. Clyde asks
Samuel for a job at the collar factory in Lycurgus, which both pleases
and takes aback his uncle. He considers it and the next day tells Clyde
that if thereís an opening, heíll be notified. After returning to Lycurgus,
Samuel confers with Gilbert and decides to start Clyde with the shrinking
process in the basement. A week later, Samuel sends Clyde a letter, telling
him of the job, asking him to give ten daysí notice before arriving, and
that he should report to Gilbert upon arriving. Clyde is pleased, notifies
Samuel of his imminent arrival, and soon enough shows up, wandering the
business center of Lycurgus.
Like Dreiser himself, Clyde has an erratic education; unlike Dreiser, he does nothing to address this shortcoming. Samuel and Gilbert both believe in the value of a rigid class system and that such a system supersedes blood relations. Money is difficult to earn and a strict work ethic not only enriched one financially, but also mentally and spiritually. In that sense, these men have a belief system that drives their lives as strongly as Asaís religion drives his life.
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Mescallado, Ray. "TheBestNotes on An American Tragedy".
. 09 May 2017