An American Tragedy Book 2, Chapters 28-29 Summary

Theodore Dreiser

Book 2, Chapters 28-29 Summary

Clyde sends Roberta a note, telling her that he will not be able to go to Fonda with her because he must attend a meeting with department heads. Her disappointment rapidly sinks to depression. She struggles through the rest of the day with an indifference and sluggishness that Clyde notices. Clyde feels bad about this, but he thinks that he can do little otherwise, with the prospect of Sondra and what she has to offer for his future. When he meets with Roberta later, he gives her the toilet set that he had bought her for Christmas. She gives him a pen set, which she says does not compare in elegance with what he gave her, causing her to become even more morose. When she asks him if he had a good time at the dinner at his uncle’s, Clyde explains that it turns out that the family took him to other events, which meant that he could not come over to see her as he had promised. As he kisses her good-bye, Roberta withdraws, saying that she doesn’t want him to be late for his meeting. She says that she will come back Christmas afternoon, hoping to meet him, which he agrees to do, since he has nothing else scheduled at the moment.

Roberta arrives at her parents’ home, depressed even further by the obvious decline she sees on the farm. Her father picks her up at the station in a horse-drawn carriage. Roberta has always been his favorite child. She looks at her surroundings, knowing that the farm is failing and is under a two thousand dollar mortgage. She is overjoyed to see her mother, thinking that she needs a confidant, though Clyde does not want anyone to know of their relationship “yet.” Roberta answers her mother’s questions and admits that she is interested in Clyde Griffiths, her supervisor, adding that no one is to know. Since the supervisors are not supposed to date the workers, Roberta thinks of finding another job, believing that this will help her relationship with Clyde. Roberta’s mother is immediately concerned, sensing that this situation is not as positive as Roberta thinks it to be. Her siblings arrive for dinner and her brother brings the Lycurgus paper with him. He asks her what her “friend’s” name is, seeing something about a Clyde Griffiths in the news. He points out that Clyde was in attendance at a Christmas party and not at the factory meeting as he had told her. There is also mention of his being at a New Year’s Eve party. She realizes that Clyde has lied to her in order to shed her from his new life in society. She ponders returning to Lycurgus immediately to be with him, but decides that she had better wait. She wonders what she can do to draw him back to her.