An American Tragedy Book 2, Chapters 30-31 Summary

Theodore Dreiser

Book 2, Chapters 30-31 Summary

Roberta is disappointed when Clyde does not show up at her place on Christmas night. Though he had intended to keep his appointment with her, Clyde’s plans changed. Mrs. Griffiths and Gilbert saw the notice in the paper about Clyde’s attendance at the dance. Gilbert is convinced that Sondra is using Clyde to get back at him for his own treatment of her in the past. Mrs. Griffiths resents his suggestion that she lets Bella run with the crowd that has taken Clyde in; she cannot see what the fuss is all about. He suggests that they should invite him for Christmas dinner, having failed to invite him to the lake during the summer as Mr. Griffiths had wanted. Mrs. Griffiths, and to some extent Gilbert, resolve to make the best of the situation and invite Clyde. When he receives the invitation, Clyde is ecstatic to be accepted into the family at last.

At the dinner, Clyde is surprised to see several members of the upper crust of Lycurgus in attendance. He manages to make quite an impression on the other guests and is invited along after dinner to other festivities. It is thus almost eleven thirty before he is free. He walks by Roberta’s house to see if she is still awake and finds a light in her window. He taps on it gently, and Roberta mournfully lets him in. He begins to tell her that, even though he had gone to the Griffiths’ just the week before (when he been to the dance in actuality), they had invited him for Christmas dinner tonight and could find no way to refuse such an invitation. He rattles on, mixing truth with lies. She listens but knows that he is lying about the Friday night “dinner.” She begins to see that, despite his enthusiasm at the beginning of their courtship, his feelings for her have waned. She confronts him with the news article about the dance, though it has no mention that his cousins were there. Clyde insists that they were, telling her that the papers do not always get the facts straight. Roberta tells him that he does not need to lie to her and that he could go anywhere he wanted just so long as he was honest. Clyde assures her that she is the only girl he thinks about, though he knows this is a lie. He comforts Roberta as she sobs, which leads her to believe that, once again, her position with him is secure.