An American Tragedy Book 2, Chapters 46-47 Summary

Theodore Dreiser

Book 2, Chapters 46-47 Summary

Clyde agrees to meet Roberta in Utica. They take separate trains. He sees her at the station and positions himself so that she can see him. He compares her drab appearance with the rich style of Sondra. Roberta looks at him with relief, glad that he kept his promise to come take her away. They avoid speaking to each other so that no one will make a connection. However, she looks at his classy appearance and thinks that once again he is “her Clyde.”

Clyde plans to buy a second straw hat in Utica to leave at the lake after the drowning. The Utica label will throw off any investigation linking them with Lycurgus. He decides he must be pleasant around her to avoid upsetting her and ruining his plans. They ride in separate cars, with Clyde thinking of all the details he must make sure are in place for this plot to succeed. They meet in Utica and plan to go to Grass Lake in the morning.

As they travel to the lake, Roberta sees a religious camp and wonders if they could find a minister over there to marry them. Clyde is shaken by this but suggest they find out later. He cries out silently to Sondra to help him. They arrive at the site of their supposed honeymoon and learn from the proprietor that there are only seven or eight people there at the moment, but the day before had seen a large group of young people camping out. This disconcerts Clyde, fearful that there may be more witnesses around that he had hoped. He registers them as Clifford Golden and wife. The proprietor suggests that they can leave their bags in the cabin, but Clyde plans on taking everything with him so as not to leave anything behind that could be traceable to him.

They rent a boat and row out onto the lake. Clyde stops so that Roberta may pick some lilies. He then rows into the middle of the lake, though Roberta points out that it is getting late. He ignores her, and all of a sudden she can see a strange expression on his face. As Clyde holds his camera, Roberta reaches out to him, which causes him to jerk back; the camera strikes her face, cutting her nose and lip. She falls over, tilting the boat into the water. Both are thrown out, and the edge of the boat strikes Roberta on the head. She calls out to Clyde to rescue her, but he lets her drown. He swims to shore, overjoyed that in the end he did not have to kill her directly and is able to claim that it was just an accident. When he reaches shore, he starts walking south through the woods.