An American Tragedy Book 2, Chapters 26-27 Summary

Theodore Dreiser

Book 2, Chapters 26-27 Summary

At dinner, Clyde is quizzed by the other guests about his background. Since the truth is unacceptable, Clyde tells them that his father runs a modest hotel in Denver. He had come to Lycurgus because his uncle wanted him to learn the collar business, though he is not sure if he wants to pursue it or to find something more promising to his future. Sondra, as well as the hostess Jill, decide that Gilbert had spread rumors about Clyde’s lower-class background out of jealousy, because obviously Clyde must be a person of some means. Sondra is relieved by this, because she is finding herself more attracted to him than she would have been to a man of lesser quality.

As the two dance, Clyde tells Sondra that he has been keeping track of her social life as reported by the local newspapers, but Sondra insists that the newspapers only report “silly things.” They discuss Sondra’s love for outdoor sports and Clyde pretends to be more capable in that area than he actually is. The topic of boating especially appeals to both of them. Anything that has to do with life on the water is attractive. They then go outside to watch the falling snow.

As the holidays approach, Clyde becomes more involved with Sondra’s social circle, at times even without Sondra present. Jill Trumbull invites him to a Christmas dance when she sees him in town buying presents. He accepts, though it means he must break a date with Roberta, who is leaving town over the holidays. He knows she will be disappointed, as this will be the last time they will have a chance to get together before she leaves, but he tells her that he is having dinner with his uncle. She accepts this, slightly impressed that her boyfriend moves in such elevated circles. She broods, however, thinking that at least he might have come to see her for a short while before she leaves.

At the Christmas dance, Clyde is invited to a New Year’s Eve party, which involves an overnight stay. Of course, he accepts, though he knows this will prevent him from seeing Roberta when she returns. Although he likes the girls he now associates with, he finds them cold compared to Roberta. However, Roberta cannot give him the social entrance that he desires. Sondra confesses that she has not yet decided how much she likes him, but she believes she may like him better than the other men she knows. She asks for his phone number, which he readily gives.