Free Study Guide for An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser|
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AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY FREE BOOK SUMMARY
The bleakness of Biltz is used to heighten the emotions Roberta is feeling.
She considers her hometown and the family homestead poor, shabby, and
below Clyde's ambitious lifestyle - and while she tries to distance herself
from this, she knows she's a part of it as well, which furthers her sense
of inferiority and helplessness.
Roberta returns to Lycurgus on Christmas night but Clyde does not meet her.
It turns out that Sunday, Gilbert Griffiths became livid upon reading
the same article in the Lycurgus Star and discovering Clyde's been introduced
to the same social circles he inhabits. His mother wonders how that happened
and Gilbert blamed Sondra Finchley. Elizabeth takes this bit of news -
and Gilbert's opinion - to her husband. Samuel is more circumspect, seeing
this as proof of Clyde's worthiness and pointing out that the family now
cannot be seen as ignoring their poorer relation. Therefore, they have
no choice but to invite Clyde to their Christmas Day party. Gilbert is
aghast at this news but does not protest. On Monday, Clyde receives an
invitation to the Griffiths party, signed by Myra, beginning at two. As
he agreed to meet Roberta at eight that night, he figured he could keep
both commitments. He's happy at this turn of events - acceptance by his
richer relations, a chance to be closer to Sondra, and confounding Gilbert's
Samuel Griffiths continues to act as the conscience for his family, aware
of Clyde's mistreatment and willing to act - albeit in a small way - to
help out his nephew.
Clyde finds himself too attracted to the party and its guests to leave early.
Though aware of his obligation to Roberta, at six he accepts an invitation
from Violet Taylor to attend the Anthonys' Christmas party after leaving
the Samuel Griffiths home. He feels restless but heads to Roberta later
than promised. He lies to her about his uncle's party beginning later
than expected, and Roberta is skeptical. She confronts him about the Lycurgus
Star article and who exactly was at Vanda Steele's party. Clyde sticks
to his original story, claiming the newspaper was wrong in its coverage.
Roberta asks specifically about whether Clyde likes Sondra Finchley; he
tries to answer neutrally but in a positive manner, which nevertheless
upsets Roberta, who wishes aloud that her background and poverty didn't
work against her. Clyde reassures her that he loves her, leading to physical
intimacy. For the moment, Roberta is happy, believing that while other
girls had some advantages, at least she and no one else had Clyde.
Clyde takes issue with the article in the Lycurgus Star, claiming, "The papers don't always get everything right." It's a clear foreshadowing of the press coverage he would face.
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Mescallado, Ray. "TheBestNotes on An American Tragedy".
. 09 May 2017