The specifying subject of “ An American Calamity ” is the complete contradiction of American dream. Dreiser has stated repeatedly in the novel that the aspiration to lift up within society and economically in modern twenty-four hours America frequently holds the really seeds by which such desires are denied by anyone and anything. This is the unfortunate manner of life for the hapless of America whom are the most despairing to accomplish a higher position within society but are unluckily ill equipped and prepared to make so. In prosecuting a better life for himself, Clyde ‘s actions are precisely reflected upon how our society expected him to move. But by slaying Roberta, he crossed the line in which society has created therefore seting an terminal to any hopes or dreams of accomplishing that much desired America dream. The narrative follows a series of stages that help link the reader to the characters, chiefly Clyde, invariably puting accent on the inevitable events that lead to the executing of the narratives protagonist.
Book One in this novel can be considered a preliminary for the reader as its ‘ chief focal point is on Clyde ‘s early childhood. The actions taken topographic point throughout Book One helps put the foundation of Clyde ‘s future actions in both Book One and Two. As the narrative begins, the audience is made cognizant of the current societal position of Clyde and his household, the Griffiths, as they preach on a busy street in Kansas. Emphasis is placed on how America has transformed into a working capitalist system which dominates the American life style as the narrative starts off at twilight ; the clip people are returning place from their topographic point of employment. Already Dreiser has revealed to the reader that 1 must work if they wish to accomplish a well-thought-of position in life. However, it is dry that the citizens of Kansas City frown upon the parents Asa and Elvira Griffiths as they force their kids to work in such an uneven mode. Their parenting manners differ greatly from each other as Asa, the male parent, is the more sensitive person while Elvira has a more directed personality. Therefore, what Asa lacks by being the more romantic dreamer, Elvira is able to stabilise the household by moving as the practical pillar of strength. Clyde is more drawn to his indecisive and idealising father out of the two. However, the desire for religious fulfilment is replaced for mercenary ownerships. These combinations are the bosom of the novel ‘s calamity. Clyde ‘s already deficiency of religious fulfilment subsequently deals a immense blow as his sister, Esta, runs off with a wolf, a term known in today ‘s society as a participant. The fact that his current province of poorness and enduring already makes Clyde inquiries his belief in God despite the sum of influence environing him. His sister running off to seek a better life and a manner to get away provenders Clyde ‘s desire to take similar actions.
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While go toing film theatres in his country is suggesting towards that life that Clyde deeply desires, the happening in the pharmaceutical shop is the first true pleasance of animal and material pleasances that he experiences. However, this all occurs in the company an immoral adult male, Sieberling, who spots his chance in taking advantage of Clyde. Clyde will unluckily go a pawn for others additions throughout the novel due to his despair of traveling up the societal ladder ; most obvious to the audience in Book Three when his instance is twisted and used for one ‘s political addition. Burleigh ‘s determination to set up the grounds is flooring but is the illustration of Dreiser ‘s position that the strong desires of mounting up in societal position, every bit good as to see justness carried out, will actuate people to act corruptedly ; no affair how well-meaning they are.
The scene for Book Two is set by presenting a new character to the novel: the brother of Asa, Samuel Griffith who owns and operates a successful Collar Factory in Lycurgus, New York. Further, Samuel and Asa are used to assist clear up Dreiser ‘s duplicating motive. This is able to be done by utilizing specific similarities to pull attending to distinctive differences that emphasize his subjects. While these two work forces are brothers, the class of their lives drastically took opposite waies. Asa is impoverished, unconcerned with his visual aspect and profoundly devoted to his desire for religious fulfilment ; Samuel, on the other manus, is a affluent adult male by giving his life to guarantee a high societal position within modern society. More doubling is seen throughout the novel that foreshadows events subsequently on. Esta Griffith is the dual for Roberta Alden in Book Two ; both become pregnant before either makes a committedness through marraige. Clyde, the chief character of the novel, has his ain two-base hit in the novel every bit good: Nixon, the wolf. Both impregnate their girlfriend our of marriage and abandon them. However, Clyde does this in a more drastic and fatal mode.
The chief scene that takes topographic point in Book Two is in a metropolis called Lycurgus. New York is known for calling some of its metropoliss after ancient Rome. However, instead than mentioning to a topographic point, the best known Lycurgus from ancient times was a Spartan lawgiver who helped convey order and reform to his militaristic metropolis ( Lycurgan Reforms ) . This is dry in the sense that Clyde will be brought to upstate New York where he will confront his concluding judgement in the custodies of others.
Book Two clears in a similar mode to Book One as it introduces the Samuel Griffiths household. The foundation of which the house of Samuel Griffith is structured upon rigorous regulations and codifications. Unlike the place belonging to Asa Griffith, that really foundation is determined by outlooks set by society and of their societal position, non some religious upheaval. While it is clear to the audience that Samuel unfeignedly cares for his immediate household, Samuel Griffiths ‘ major concern is his well being in his concern and fundss. This is reveled to the reader when Samuel decides to head to the mill foremost instead than heading place in order to acquire his work caught up and up to day of the month. It is besides made clear as Samuel decides to advance Clyde ; non out of understanding for his brother ‘s boy, but due to the fact that inquiries can be raised as to the societal position of his ain boy, Gilbert, as they portion several physical similarities. Again, it is made obvious to the reader that Samuel is more concerned with concern and his immediate household than Clyde ‘s well-being even though Clyde is his ain nephew. Last, Samuel is determined to handle Clyde as another regular employee that works for his mill wholly ignoring that fact that they ‘re relations. Samuel believes in the value of a stiff category system and that such a system supersedes blood dealingss ( Mescallado ) . Money is without a uncertainty really hard to accomplish but Samuel believes that in making so, one can be enriched non merely financially, but mentally and spiritually every bit good ( Mescallado ) . With that in head, Samuel has a belief system that drives his life every bit strongly as Asa ‘s faith drives his ain. And although each adult male is separated by typical belief systems, Dreiser introduces a new character in the novel that meets someplace in the center of the two.
Titus Alden, Roberta ‘s male parent, makes for an interesting comparing to the other two male parents in the novel, Samuel and Asa Griffiths. Titus meets someplace in between Asa, the debauched dreamer, and Samuel, the aggressive and rigorous man of affairs. He has neither the quality of Samuel ‘s concern resoluteness or Asa ‘s religious urges, led each of the brothers down his ain way. Alternatively, Titus seems to take a way already set out by him by native tradition and does non any signifiers of options to this. However, this deficiency of individualism and avidity to make something different besides provides a sort of strength, as his unquestioning belief in traditional moral values provides clear counsel for how he should travel about his life ( Mescallado ) . However, his values and moral drastically change at the daze that his girl died at the custodies of Clyde. His lone end is to so seek retaliation and convey those responsible, viz. Clyde, to justness. And although Clyde does hold echt feelings for Roberta at the beginning of their relationship, it all alterations every bit shortly as Clyde discovers that he is much better off taking another miss of a high societal position in hopes of accomplishing his ain selfish additions.
Clyde at first loves the secretiveness of his love affair between him and Roberta and, as a consequence, he is blinded to the truth on how many people are really cognizant of his actions affecting Roberta. This will turn out to be fatal for Clyde as he is nescient to believe that no hints can be linked to his relation with Roberta allow entirely her decease. However when viewed through Roberta ‘s position, she is wholly frightened at the secretiveness of the love affair, invariably paranoiac of being discovered and exposed to the general populace. Taking into consideration of what happens to her, both the gestation and her decease, it is really apprehensible to the beginnings of this fright. Roberta still remains true to her values despite her fright of losing Clyde as she will non transgress by claiming to go to church when she knows full good that it will non go on nor will she pass the dark with Clyde when they meet outside of town. However, her ethical motives are easy shattered by Clyde who introduces her to dancing. It ‘s dry in the fact that at a certain point in Book Two, Clyde was the naive young person who did non cognize how to dance and had to be taught by a more knowing, yet less moral, individual.
Clyde ‘s forbearance with Roberta grows weary and wants to work her feelings for him by any agencies necessary. As a consequence, he has started to transform into a character such as his ex, Hortense ; he does non demo marks of involvement until he his “ favours ” are met. But instead than seeking mercenary ownerships such as what Hortense did to Clyde, he seeks sexual pleasances from Roberta. However, Clyde ‘s uses tactics are besides every bit elusive as Hortense. He convinces Roberta into leave the Newtons the several regulations and boundaries enforced upon her. Now that she is no longer under any restraints from the Newtons, Clyde tries to convert her to travel even farther now that the chance, an chance he helped convey approximately, is available. The teens remain nescient to protection and the effects that come without it and therefore ensuing in the gestation of Roberta. Now by this clip, Clyde is besides seeing another miss that goes by the name of Sondra Finchly. Clyde decides to go forth Lycurgus in order to happen a solution to Roberta ‘s gestation. The reader is now made really much aware of how much Clyde values maintaining the his love affair with Roberta a secret for if word should acquire out, it could destroy his opportunities with Sondra. When he forgets to acquire instructions for the medical specialty purchased outside of town shows merely how small he cares for Roberta and her state of affairs. He seeks for a speedy hole and the procedure through which it goes does non count to him every bit long as the result is that Roberta is no longer pregnant with his kid and is set free from her clasp.
Clyde ‘s refusal to get away possible gaining control from the constabulary force reflects how urgently he wants both Sondra ‘s love and the elevated category position it brings
Political opportunism disguises itself every bit understanding as Sondra is n’t named as the ground for Clyde determination on slaying Roberta. However, this luxury seems to merely use to the wealthy and those high in the societal ladder as Roberta ‘s name is made public without vacillation every bit good as Clyde ‘s immediate household. It is really dry in Clyde ‘s ill fame as the lone suspect to the slaying of Roberta as it earns him the celebrity and it bestows upon him a sort of acknowledgment but non the 1 that he desired. As a nationally celebrated felon, a suspected slayer, he assumes a distorted but rather elevated stature in the public oculus. Roberta was allowed by Clyde to decease in the deficiency so that he may able to eventually accomplish that position he so desires. So in a manner, the media attending given to him is the success he earned.