An American Tragedy And The Futility Of — страница 4

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and shows his progressive moral downfall. In the beginning, Clyde did not have money, sex, or a social life. Throughout his life, he struggled to obtain these things, this purchasable happiness and false sincerity that money could buy or rent. On the road to murder, he begged for a job at the Greene-Davidson Hotel; he used his salary to solicit prostitutes, clothe himself fashionably, and date Hortense. Two years before his death, Clyde still did not realize that his life was useless and horrible, a sham. Each of Clyde’s traits (lust, envy, melancholy) is a feature of his uncontrollably weak, vicious morality. He never breaks out of the vicious cycle of pain and pleasure (with more pain than pleasure). When he works at the Greene-Davidson Hotel, he is unfortunate enough to

catch a glimpse of “high society.” Transfixed, he creates a religion, and women, money, and clothes, are his gods. While wandering, he happens to meet his rich uncle. This uncle gives him a job with daunting social, financial, and sexual possibilities. Clyde seduces Roberta (a kind, pretty, poor girl), obsesses about Sondra (a beautiful rich girl who expresses her deepest thoughts in baby talk), then kills Roberta (who threatens to take away his position in society). Clyde shows no remorse — for months, he does not think he murdered Roberta. Clyde has no thoughts: everything he does is instinctual. Society taught him that material success and material possessions were everything and he, because of his weak morals, instantly agreed. Whenever Clyde was entranced by a girl, he

courted her without thinking whether relations would damage his reputation. He never considered how much his whims would hurt his girl. In Kansas City, when he and his friends crushed a little girl while joy riding in a stolen car, they did not care about the child?s condition; their only instinct is to run from the police. More disturbingly, Clyde did not even think he had committed a crime when he killed Roberta — he killed her because that the easiest way out of his dilemma, the easiest way to in society’s good grace. When she drowned, he fled from his obligations instinctively, then “[transformed] his mental and moral cowardice into … “accidental” murder.” That, to him, was instinct. Clyde was more an embodiment of the naturalist movement than a real person. An

American Tragedy is the definitive guidebook to the futility of pursuing The American Dream. In its 874 pages of small print, not one character lives the dream that they all sought. Uncle Griffiths really is not a tycoon; only Clyde’s biased narration leads us to this inaccurate conclusion. Sondra is not the most intelligent girl in the world; she speaks baby talk when deep in thought. She is not particularly beautiful; Clyde is attracted to any good-looking woman. She is not super-elite, either; she may have a butler and a lake side mansion, but Clyde’s and Dreiser’s tendencies to exaggerate — Clyde for vanity, Dreiser to reinforce his naturalist theme — have blown her out of proportion. Clyde’s women — Hortense, Sondra, Roberta, Rita, and many others — are

nothing more than pleasure seekers who want more from life. Hortense, as her name suggests, uses boys for money; she hopes one of them will deliver her from poverty. She is doomed. If Clyde had not chased Hortense, the girl in Kansas would not be dead. Sondra wants to stay socially active, but Clyde’s infamy forces her and other elite socialites to move elsewhere. She has no goals and loves on a whim, so she will turn out no better than Clyde’s other girls. Roberta is a pathetic, emotional creature who only wants love and happiness. When Clyde does not marry her, she threatens to expose him. Clyde kills her so he can have sex with Sondra. Rita, a bad girl in Lycurgus, only wants sex. Ironically, she is one of the two content characters in the novel. The poster child for the

futility of the American Dream is Clyde Griffiths. During his short life, he wants only wealth, social status, and sex (together, the American Dream). He wins his way into Chicago and Lycurgus’ high societies, is ruined by wealth, and is abandoned. In each city, he has several romantic interludes, which give him a sense of mission and fulfillment for a moment. But, after each affair, he sinks deeper into despair, which corrodes his abrasive morals. Soon, there is nothing Clyde will not do for money, social status, and sex — he will even kill for it. Each character’s emphasis on material success is the cause of tragedy. Strangely, Clyde’s parents remain surprisingly happy. Their secret is religion. Whether it is an opiate (for Clyde), a loose set of guidelines (for Uncle