Sociological aspects of “The Devil in the White City”
“The Devil in the White City” by Erik Larson was a mix between two stories that overall worked well together. The stories worked together to convey the true overall meaning of the theme good versus evil. Good and evil are seen everywhere throughout the novel, even in the most obvious of places such as the title. Good and evil, dark and light, they all stand for the same thing. White is normally found to be pure and good. By the author naming the book, The Devil in the White City, he is trying to tell the reader that the novel is about how even in truly pure places evil will follow. Although, good and evil is the main theme of this novel, I found that if you look deeply into the way he tells the story, he is also trying to tell his reader about other themes. These other themes that you can find all throughout the book are things such as pride and determination. These other themes were very prominent and played very well into the plot and the theme of the story.
One half of the story was of a man named Daniel Burnham, who was a famous architect of his time. It’s in this half of the story that can you see the good part of the city. Pride can be seen mainly throughout his story. His life in these pages was based on the construction of the World Columbian Exposition which was a fair held in Chicago in 1893. This magnificent fair was in honor of one of America’s most well known discoverers, Christopher C. Columbus. This was the 400th anniversary of his discovery of the new world. Through Burnham’s pride and his determination, he was able to complete the fair in almost a year. However, it was not truly ready for opening day due to a few construction issues, such as the world’s first Ferris wheel designed by Ferris himself. It is one of the most attended events ever recorded, and its success made our entire country proud.
The other half of the story was about a charming yet determined man called H. H. Holmes. His birth name was originally Herman Webster Mudget. He changed his name later on in life due to one of his scandals. The overall theme of good and evil can be seen by comparing Holmes’ story with Burnham's story. Holmes represents the evil part of the story. This is revealed in one of Holmes’ most famous quotes, “I was born with the devil in me, I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than the poet can help the inspiration to sing." By Holmes saying this, it is truly obvious that he is the epitome of evil. With the reader already knowing that he was America’s first serial killer, Eric Larson started off by foreshadowing the future events listed in his novel by telling of the bad half of Chicago. This so called bad half of Chicago was a place of horrible killings, missing people, and of common street crimes. By the author telling this, he allows the reader to make known connections to Holmes. Holmes starts off in the story being known as a doctor and pharmacist. By...