An American Tragedy And The Futility Of — страница 5

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Griffiths), or a binding pact (for Elvira Griffiths), religion gives meaning to otherwise meaningless and chaotic lives. For Clyde, religion provides a sense of unity and wholeness, and helps him realize that he is wrong and ask for forgiveness. Uncle Griffiths’s religion is a set of moral guidelines which all humans should follow — love and justice. (E.g. Despite his qualms, Uncle Griffiths does not pay for Clyde’s retrial, because he knows Clyde is guilty. While his policies are sound, Uncle Griffiths fails. As he said, “mixing business and family is folly;” he trusted Clyde, and Clyde ruined him. Elvira is seemingly the most content, both with her failures and her successes, because she bound a pact with God. She finds solace in the Bible; no matter what may go

wrong, she will always have help and understanding. When the novel ends, every main character but her is dead or a failure. She, however, changes peoples’ lives — even Clyde’s and the skeptical DA Mason’s. While she may be na?ve, whenever others fall to temptation, Elvira follows her morals. Despite her son’s electrocution and her daughter’s illegitimate child, Elvira is not ruined by the American Dream, and all because of religion. A novel’s mode is its style (E.g. satirical, romantic, psychological, naturalistic, science fiction, mystery, adventure). While An American Tragedy contains many psychological insights, its dominant mode is naturalistic. A naturalistic novel is “realistic fiction taken one step further, in which the author pessimistically portrays

squalor, violence, sordidness, and characters who have little control over their own destinies” (1). Naturalist writers Crane, Morris, London, and Dresser all even believed that man is “a helpless pawn of his heredity and his environment, a creature caught in a web of causation and chance” (Bucco 7). Despite their occasional successes, all characters in An American Tragedy are failures; they live fragile, futile lives, and never become successful. For example, Sondra is the American Dream, but wealth, good looks, and a high social status do not guarantee her success or happiness — her lover is electrocuted, and she is forced to move away. Hortense, Roberta, Ratter, and Rita are doomed from birth — their poverty will prevent their success. Clyde, however, is the peak of

naturalism. He spends a lifetime searching for happiness. On occasion, he feels whole, but he quickly feels empty again. His stupidity and weak morals, however, guarantee his failure. At the end of An American Tragedy, Clyde discovers that life would have been better had he followed his parents’ moral and religious guidelines. However, he realizes that religion will not save his earthly life, nor will his death change the outcome of anyone else’s miserable life; people ignore Clyde’s failure and suffering, and continue chasing the American Dream. Destiny and social status, he reasons, will bar nearly everyone from living the Dream. An American Tragedy is a classic — its moral is timeless. Works Cited”Crime of the Century.” The Chester Gillette case. Online. Internet.

11 October 2000; 19:49 EST. Available: “Murder in the Adirondacks: The Cast of Characters.” Murder in the Adirondacks. Unknown. Online. Internet. 9 October 2000; 16:24 EST. Available: “Theodore Dreiser (1871-1945).” Theodore Dreiser. 1999. Online. Internet. 5 October; 1:00 EST. Available: “Theodore Dreiser.” Theodore Dreiser. Online. Internet. 8 October 2000; 10:45 EST. Available: Bucco, Martin. Cliffs Notes: An American Tragedy. Edited by Gary Carey and James L. Roberts. Lincoln, Nebraska: Cliffs Notes, 1974. Day, Martin S. History of American Literature From 1910 to Present. Garden City,

New York: Doubleday and Company, 1971. Dreiser, Theodore. An American Tragedy. Cambridge, Massachussetts: Robert Bentley, 1953. James D. Hart, ed. Oxford Companion to American Literature. 4th edition. New York City: Oxford University Press, 1978. Lundquist, James. Theodore Dreiser. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co, 1974. Magill, Frank N., ed. Magill’s Survey of American Literature. Volume 2. North Bellmore, NY: Marshall Cavendish, 1991. Magill, Frank N., ed. Masterplots: Digests of World Literature. Volume 1. New York: Curtis Books, 1949. Magill, Frank N., ed. Masterplots: Digests of World Literature. Volume 1, Revised Category Edition. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Salem Press, 1985. Master the Modes. New York City: Scholastic Magazines, Inc., 1975. Parker, Peter, ed. A