By Martin Bucco
Known as the most effective writers at the American scene, Dreiser is usually known as one of many world's top worst writers, with claims that he's an impurist with not anything yet genius. This tale, instructed in ugly element and with loyal 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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Additional resources for An American Tragedy (Cliffs Notes)
When Mason declares that Clyde was "intimate" with Miss Alden while pursuing Miss X, the rural folk crane forward. Realizing how shabby his sexual life must appear, Clyde also feels that it is not too unusual, at least by the standards of some of Lycurgus society. Despite Clyde's struggling to believe in himself, his sense of inferiority overwhelms him. Committed to perjury, Clyde is a deficient witness. He twists, swallows stigmatically, and sinks in his chair. He feels weak, nervous, and false, and his nerves fail after Mason asks why he did not simply push the boat to the struggling Roberta.
During the trial, Clyde's courage ebbs and flows. Mason's threat of a witness shocks Clyde into picturing the truth for himself: (1) the unintended blow, (2) the boat's upsetting, (3) Roberta's cries for help, (4) his passivity, (5) his swimming to shore, (6) his changing clothes, and (7) his flight. Downhearted after Mason's dynamic presentation, Clyde is heartened by Belknap's opening defense. To distract the jury from the charge of murder, Jephson attacks the defendant as a moral coward. Hesitating and stumbling through his memorized answers, Clyde shows himself a weakling, incapable--Jephson hopes to prove--of murder.
1949. Best single scholarly book on Dreiser. M. Theodore Dreiser. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1970. Pamphlet in American Writers Series, 102. Lucid sketch of life and work. GERBER, PHILLIP L. Theodore Dreiser. , 1964. Twayne's United States Authors Series, 52. Crisp overview of Dreiser's career and works. KAZIN, ALFRED, AND CHARLES SHAPIRO, eds. The Stature of Theodore Dreiser. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1955. Collects best Dreiser criticism between 1900 and 1955. LEHAN, RICHARD.
An American Tragedy (Cliffs Notes) by Martin Bucco