20 Th Century

An American Tragedy by Martin Bucco

By Martin Bucco

Known as the best writers at the American scene, Dreiser can also be referred to as one of many world's top worst writers, with claims that he's an impurist with not anything yet genius. This tale, advised in grotesque element and with dependable realism, recounts the dilemmas and offerings of a ''loser''; we watch him ascend to temptation, fall in transgression, and obtain his acceptable penance.

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Com whereas Nicholson would appeal to the secular, McMillan would appeal to the divine. Pondering his case, Clyde wonders if his false form of defense is in itself sufficiently mitigating to warrant an appeal. Furthermore, if he is now truly contrite, fit for life and action, the state's killing him compounds crime with crime. Out of his need for sympathy, yearning, and deliverance, Clyde confides more in McMillan than in his mother; from McMillan's manner, Elvira fears that Clyde is guilty. Although Clyde declares his Christian conversion, true to his own nature he seems to backslide onto the island of himself, where (like Robinson Crusoe) he must try to construct his own consolation.

No longer are his mother's shabby brown coat and ridiculous brown hat so disturbing. In contrast to his once expensive suits and hats, Number 77221 now wears a striped uniform and a hideous cap. No mirror in his cell reflects this indignity. In his final hour, Clyde is furnished felt slippers, gray socks, black trousers, and--irony of ironies--a white shirt without a collar. Throughout An American Tragedy, Dreiser has dramatized the failure of religion to guide Clyde over the hazardous terrain of modern American life.

Her knowledge of men and of birth control are very limited. Her shyness stems, in large part, from feelings of inferiority, a legacy of her early factory days. She is attracted not only to Clyde's charm and position, but to his physical attributes. Her response to nature is sensuous and serene when she picks water lilies and when she trails a hand in the lake. Passionately loving Clyde, she afterwards feels guilty but continues the affair. Despair turns to hope after Clyde agrees to marry her.

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