Free Study Guide for An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser|
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FREE BOOK SUMMARY FOR AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY BY THEODORE DREISER
Heit is less interested in solving the case quickly than in having the case
benefit the local Republican party.
Coroner Heit has to decide what to do next, including how to approach contacting
Mrs. Alden in Biltz. Returning to Bridgeburg, he speaks with the district
attorney, Orville Mason. Mason already heard early details from Zillah
Saunders, but Heit confirmed to him that the case is definitely murder.
Heit offers to go to Mrs. Alden to inform her of Roberta's death but points
out that it would be politically advantageous for Mason if he takes the
initiative. Mason expresses his gratitude and asks if anybody besides
Heit knows of the letter; Heit says only Hubbard, the innkeeper, is aware
of it. Heit mentions that Hubbard was afraid something was wrong based
on the missing young man's nervous behavior; further, there were the marks
on the drowned girl's face, as well as the group near Three Mile Bay who
ran into a mysterious young man. Earl Newcomb is following up leads both
there and at Sharon, but there is little doubt that this is a case of
murder. Mason tells his secretary Zillah Saunders to look up a Titus Alden
in Biltz and to have his legal assistant, Burton Burleigh, come back early
from his weekend vacation. Mason thanks Heit for this much-needed boost
to his political career.
We are given a brief biographical sketch of Mason, who grew up under poverty-stricken
neglect and suffered permanent facial injury in his teens. Despite such
a background and disfigurement, he climbed up the local political ladder
and began a family.
Orville Mason drives from Bridgeburg to Biltz, where he first meets Titus at the Alden farm. He confirms that Titus has a daughter whose nickname is Bert, Roberta, and that Titus has never heard of a Clifford Golden or Carl Graham. Mason asks more questions about Roberta and her recent activities before showing the envelope with her handwriting. Titus suspects that she's been harmed or is dead, which Mason confirms. Titus becomes hysterical but Mason calms him down for the sake of Roberta's mother, who must also hear this news. Titus vows righteous vengeance on the person who violated and murdered his daughter, then breaks the news to his wife. Mrs. Alden faints when told and Mason thinks quickly, asking Titus where he can phone a doctor; Titus directs him to the Wilcoxes next door, the same phone that Roberta used to speak with Clyde, and there Mason dials up Dr. Crane in Biltz.
Upon recovering, Mrs. Alden tells Mason that the only person Roberta had mentioned
to her was her employer, Clyde Griffiths. This third example of the initials
C.G. is too much to be coincidence, Mason decides. Mason and Titus speak
to the Aldens' mailman, who confirms numerous letters sent out to a Clyde
Griffiths. Orville Mason and Titus Alden then go to Bridgeburg: at the
Lutz Brothers funeral parlor, Titus confirms that the drowned girl is
his daughter. Dramatically, he asks for Mason's help in prosecuting the
person responsible. Mason is emotionally moved and promises to do exactly
that, impressing those who hear him. Newcomb then reminds Mason of the
bag Roberta left at Gun Lodge, evidence that must be investigated.
Dreiser's stylistic emphasis on details pays off in an unexpected fashion in this Book, as it is reinforced by the importance of evidence in finding and prosecuting Clyde.
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Mescallado, Ray. "TheBestNotes on An American Tragedy".
. 09 May 2017