Why do you think the author includes the story of Holmes’ murders "The Devil in the White City"?

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

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There are many reasons why Erik Larson includes the Holmes storyline into his account of the construction of the Chicago World's Fair. First, The Devil in the White City is more poignant and intriguing because of the juxtaposition of the best and worst of mankind. In other words, the amazing display of the greatest innovations in the world and the astounding construction accomplishments seem even greaterwhen contrasted with the darkness of Holmes's dark and devious actions. (Note the same principle in the title: Devil and White City.) Second, Holmes's actions keep the many obstacles encountered by the builders and designers in perspective--serial murders are much worse and much more permanent than anything that happened while creating the Fair. It is true some bad things transpired; however, they are not on the same level as what happenedto Holmes's innocent victims. Finally, an accurate account of any event must include the worst and most depraved motives and actions as well as the loftiest and most selfless motives and actions of the people involved. Telling either story without the other would be a distortion of the entire story.

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