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I am looking for a good thesis statement for the following prompt for the Devil in the...

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princess1394 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 10, 2011 at 5:09 AM via web

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I am looking for a good thesis statement for the following prompt for the Devil in the White City.

What conclusions can the reader draw about the character of the United States at the end of the 19th century? What were most influential factors in shaping life at the time?

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appletrees | College Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted September 10, 2011 at 5:31 AM (Answer #1)

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It is clear from the many inventions, innovations and new products described in the book that one of the most influential factors shaping life at the end of the 19th century was the impact of industrialization. Not only were good being manufactured more easily and quickly, but more people were working in regular jobs than ever had before. This need for labor created a whole new class of people in the United States, and the characteristics that united them (their socioeconomic status, their living conditions, their social concerns and needs) would continue to shape a whole host of things: politics, public policy, government safety regulations, the formation of unions, child labor laws, urban planning, agriculture, medicine, and entertainment.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 10, 2011 at 1:44 PM (Answer #2)

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One other idea about America at the turn of the century becomes clear in Erik Larsson's The Devil in the White City: the "untamed" West is capable of being tamed. Perhaps that seems odd, given that half the book tells the story of a serial killer who took advantage of the World's Fair to commit his murders with relative impunity; however, there is plenty of evidence that proves this is a turning point in America--and the world--for how the West was viewed.

When writing a purpose statement which reflects this view, think about all the ways Chicago (epitome of the Wild West) showed itself to be cultured, progressive, innovative, and civilized. Even the fact that Holmes was discovered at all is testament to the ability of law enforcement to be successful in a world seen as lawless and crude.

A thesis statement for this idea might read something like this: Before the turn of the century, America saw Chicago and the West as a wild and untamed place; however, World's Fair in Chicago demonstrated the West's capacity for culture, progress, and innovation.


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