Theodore Dreiser An American Tragedy

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Theodore Dreiser An American Tragedy

Book: An American Tragedy
Type of book: Novel
Name of author: Theodore Dreiser
Number of pages: 80
Description of main characters:

Clyde Griffith:
He is the main character of the book. Clyde is a typical American boy from a very poor family who is able to do almost everything to become a part of the rich and wealthy society. He is prepared to betray his feelings to a working poor girl Roberta who is expecting his baby.

The family members of Clyde:
Father:
Seems to be someone who failed in everything he tried.
Mother:
A strong personality who always follows what she believes.
Esta:
His older sister who breakes all the rules of the family and runs away for her love.
Roberta Alden:
A daughter of a very poor farmer. This very pretty girl fell in love with Clyde and that became fatal for her.

Sondra Finchley:
Very handsome girl of an upper class who spends her life doing nothing but enjoying her life.

Samuel Griffith:
A rich uncle of Clyde. He felt he ought to help the son of his poor brother. Following this idea he offers Clyde a job in his factory.

Story:
As a young boy Clyde goes with his poor family into the streets and sings to the God. He doesn't like it. One day he discovers that his sister Esta isn't with her family. He thinks that his sister went to find a better life than this. When he is older he finds a job in Kansas as a bell-boy. Clyde likes the job because he is well-dressed, meets many rich people and the hotel is equipped with expensive furniture. In Kansas he meets a pretty girl called Hortense. In fact she doesn't like him but Clyde doesn't know this and buys her many things to attract her attention. Hortense saw a fur coat but it is very expensive and she asks Clyde to buy it. Clyde thinks about it a lot because he doesn't know whether she really likes him or she is just using him. A few weeks later when he goes for work through Kansas he sees his mother walking into a house. He follows her and looks through the window. After his mother leaves the house he goes into the house because he saw his sister. Esta doesn't look very healthy because she is pregnant and alone. A few days later his mother asks him if he has some money for Esta. Clyde says that he hasn't. But he really has the money that Esta needs but he needs the money for Hortense's coat.
One day he and another bell-boy go with their friends to a lake but they have to be at 6 at work or they lose their jobs.

When they are returning from the trip they kill a child and a few minutes later they crash into a tree. Everyone of them runs away. In this night Clyde loses his job, his money and Hortense. After working in many cities and changing his name many times he goes to Lycurgus to work for his uncle. In the first night he sees a pretty, rich girl Sondra Finchley at his uncle's house. At that time he was nobody for the society of Sondra. Clyde starts to work as a usual worker but later he is put in charge of many girls. There he meets Roberta. They are not allowed to see each other because it's forbidden but they fall in love and meet daily. Later on one evening Clyde meets Sondra. As of this evening they meet more and more. Clyde doesn't love Roberta anymore but she is going to have a baby and wants Clyde to marry her. After a long time of thinking he decides to kill her and takes her to the lake Big Bittern. He leaves Roberta drown. After a few days the police catch him and take him to jail. The jury in a court finds him guilty and he is sentenced to death. Before his death he realizes that what he had done was wrong but it's too late. He is ready for dying on the electric chair.

The main "message" of the book:
This novel is one of the best works of critical realism in American literature. The author shows that money isn't the most important value. Every society should value also moral qualities of a person.

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