An American Tragedy Book 2, Chapters 23-25 Summary

Theodore Dreiser

Book 2, Chapters 23-25 Summary

Clyde thinks about how much better his life in Lycurgus is compared to that in Kansas City and Chicago. He is not making nearly as much money here as in the past, but he is happier. He and Roberta continue to meet in her room without being detected, so far. He realizes that she will probably have to get a new living place soon to continue the charade. As he walks along Wykeagy Avenue, where the Griffiths live, he sees a large car pull up to one of the houses and Sondra Flinchley’s face in the car window. Seeing Clyde in the dim light, Sondra thinks he is Gilbert and offers him a ride. When he approaches, she sees that it is Clyde instead and apologizes for the error. Hurt, Clyde begins to walk away, but Sondra insists that he may still have a ride, admitting that she likes him better than Gilbert anyway. Clyde tells her the changes in his life since they last met and that he has kept up with her social life as reported in the papers. As Sondra drops Clyde off at his home, she thinks that the Griffiths must not be making too much of him.

Clyde misses a date with Roberta because of his encounter with Sondra. He decides he will tell Roberta a lie and make up some excuse. As for Sondra, she thinks of how Clyde is much more appealing than his wealthier cousin, Gilbert. She meets up with her friends and tells them about Clyde and the impression he made on her. They decide to invite him to an upcoming dance and thus get him involved in their social scene. They laugh at how Gilbert will react when they have accepted his “poorer” cousin as an equal and in preference to him.

Clyde is overjoyed when he receives the invitation. He feels that at last he is reaching the social station to which he belongs. He thinks of Sondra and the possibilities that lie ahead. At the dance, Clyde is introduced to Sondra’s friends, who discuss college football rivalries. Clyde immediately feels left out, not having gone to college and in fact ignorant of many of the college names the others bat back and forth. He decides to say that he went for a time to the State University of Kansas, which is one of the only colleges he knows. Clyde makes a hit at the dance, and Sondra has clearly taken him under her wing.