"An American Tragedy" Book I by Theodore Draiser

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"An American Tragedy" composition

As we read the first book of An American Tragedy we understand the might of the language and even the plot the author can put before us.

The main characters face financial difficulties because of the period which takes place after the after the Great Depression, and because of their life style. Griffiths are from low walks of life. They live by doing their street missionary work. Many people seems to think it is controversial way earning money. So the protagonist of the novel - Clyde Griffiths lives in a quite troublesome environment. It's no wonder that the children of the family have an idea to change the life for a better one. So Clyde's sister Esta gives vent to her desires and makes her mind to perform an elopement with her boyfriend, not even letting her parents guess about the step.

When Clyde reaches appropriate age he decided to start earning pocket money.

It's not easy but he is capable and wise guy and soon he works in a splendid hotel down town. The new environment forces him to get acquainted with bell boys and other staff his age in the place. He makes friends there and feels the taste of a new life. It offers greater opportunities and it's more exciting. He quickly gets used to it and in the bottom of his mind Clyde feels that it's not the limit, the life can be much more better like the rich flourishing one lady and gentlemen lead in the Kansas' Hotel.

Having found a common language with the local social circles, Clyde sets his eye on a beautiful and lively girl Hortense. But she is the one about whom we're used to call material girl. She likes none of the boys around her rather she measures them by the quantity of money they have or whether they have a car or not.

Soon Clyde faces difficulties, the car he and his company is meets with an accident. The young driver without license at break-neck speed manages to kill a small girl on a slippery layer of the Kansas' road. The car was given a chase. The driver lets the car hit a pile of wood and the car stops. The company rushes away not even showing any kind of visible sympathy for the culprit. It was a tragical moment no one feels safe and the whole Clyde's life and dreams were at stake at the moment.

So, the first book of the novel is overfilled with social context. We can easily see the trend of bourgeois standards and how Clyde leads his life under the pressure of the social atmosphere. He sees poverty unfortunate and misery on one side and wealth luxury happiness on the other which is the side of rich people. He spares no efforts and does his best to make his dreams come true.


"Theodore Dreiser." Microsoft® Student 2009 [DVD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 2008.


An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser Foreign Languages Publishing House Moscow 1949