An American Tragedy

History Book Report – Historical Fiction

Your Name ­­­­­_ _______________

Book Title _An American Tragedy____________

Author Theodore Dreiser _

Where did you get this book? _ ________

Number of pages _853__ Number of pages you read _853__

1) Write a summary of the events in the book. For every 25 pages of the book you must write at least a one-half page summary of what happened in those pages. If your book is over 300 pages, you may summarize every 50 pages. Make sure to emphasize the historical background against which the events in the novel take place. Emphasize how the characters are affected by historical forces.

Start your summary on this page, then continue on notebook paper. Clearly identify the pages you are summarizing. Staple the summaries to the back of this form.

Book One

Chapters 1-7 pages 1-50

Clyde Griffiths is a teenage boy living in Kansas City. His family sings gospel songs and preaches on the streets. Clyde doesn’t like the life he has and views his parents as failures. When his family talks about moving to Denver because the Griffiths’ oldest child Esta ran away, Clyde gets a job at a soda shop. When he realizes that he wouldn’t be able to stay in Kansas City and live on his own making that much money, about five dollars a week, he gets a job at the fancy Green-Davidson Hotel.

America was supposed to be a place where all men are created equal. Clyde realizes that this isn’t really true. People came to America because they would have an equal chance of becoming as wealthy and successful as anyone else. In America, Clyde realizes that you are either rich or poor. He wants to work his way up and be like the rich people that came into his hotel. After talking to fellow employees, Clyde has begun to form plans on how to make money. He was a wealthy uncle in New York and plans to get in touch with him.

Chapters 9-13 pages 50-98

Clyde has begun to make a great deal of money. He works at the fancy Green-Davidson Hotel as a bus boy. His parents don’t know the true amount of money he makes. He bought new clothes and goes out with his friends every payday. While he is enjoying his new lifestyle, he meets a girl named Hortense Briggs. She is very full herself. Hortense know how to manipulate people into buying her all sorts of things. She starts to date Clyde, along with many other young men.

Clyde’s mother asked him one night to help come up with 100 dollars. He doesn’t know what it is for but one day he sees someone that he believes is his sister Esta on the street. As he follows his mother one day, he finds that his sister is living in town, her boyfriend left her and she is going to have a child. Their mother doesn’t want Clyde and his younger brother and sister to know because this sort of situation was looked down upon in those days.

In the early 1900’s it was almost unheard of for a woman to be unwed and have a child. Esta’s family is embarrassed by her condition so she is forced to live alone like most girls would have in those days.

Chapters 14-19 pages 98-146
Clyde was asked by his mother for fifty dollars to help Esta because she needed a doctor. When she asked Clyde, he had fifty dollars in his pocket, but said that he couldn’t give her money because he didn’t have any. He wanted to buy Hortense a fur coat she wanted and it cost over 100 dollars.

Hortense agreed to go on a trip with Clyde and their friends. She wanted him to think she was interested in him so he would buy her the coat. While they were out of town, she was flirting with one of his friends and Clyde became angry.

On the way home they were driving quickly because the boys had to get to work. There was a lot of traffic so when they saw a street that was empty they turned in quickly. Because they were going so fast, they hit a little girl. Everyone was