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On Pages 59-61 of the novel The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson, what...

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moocow554 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted November 28, 2012 at 11:56 AM via

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On Pages 59-61 of the novel The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson, what historical reference is discussed?

What does that historical reference mean?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 28, 2012 at 1:49 PM (Answer #1)

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On page 59 and 60, of The Devil in the White City, the historical reference made refers to the fears London is speaking of regarding recession. Previously in the novel, the city of Chicago is experiencing a dramatic expansion. Now, many are worried about losing everything.

The quote which denotes this is found on pages 59 and 60.

The Chicago Tribune reported that the increasing turbulence in global markets had raised concerns in London that a recession, even a full-blown "panic," could be in the offing. 

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 28, 2012 at 2:34 PM (Answer #2)

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I think it is important to expand a little bit on the previous post.  People in Chicago were indeed worried about losing it all.  But if you are going to talk about this worry as a historical reference, you should also discuss how this was the beginning of the Panic of 1893.  This is an extremely important historical event.  Up to that time, the Panic of 1893 was the worst economic crash the United States had ever experienced.  You should be sure to mention it specifically.

Another historical reference is the reference on page 59 to the Chicago political machine.  Larson says that “that was how Chicago politics worked.”  This refers to how Chicago was run by a “machine” that corruptly used government jobs and other kinds of favors to essentially buy votes.  This machine was a defining feature of Chicago politics for a very long time.

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 28, 2012 at 6:23 PM (Answer #3)

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There are many historical references in this part, but what stood out to me was the descriptions of the city.  One mention of history on page 59 is the conditions of Chicago before the turn of the 19th century.

To anyone who met him, he appeared to be just another poor soul crushed by the din and filth of Chicago. (p. 59)

 This statement stands out particularly strongly to me.  Chicago is described as having “crushed” people who go there.  The din (loud noise) and filth (dirt and decay) is part of the consequences of industrialization.  People come seeking their fortune.  They end up being “crushed by the machine” of industrialization.  This strong statement indicates how many people's dreams suffered.

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