An American Tragedy Book 2, Chapters 9-11 Summary

Theodore Dreiser

Book 2, Chapters 9-11 Summary

Clyde, increasingly aware of his position as a Griffiths in Lycurgus, is uneasy about his relationship with Rita. Eventually this situation is resolved when his family status increases. It is not until after a month that Samuel Griffiths asks Gilbert about Clyde’s work in the factory. From Gilbert’s response, Mr. Griffiths sees that his son is jealous of his nephew. He decides it is time for Clyde to come out to the house for dinner. He arranges it with his wife, who sends Clyde an invitation for Sunday night dinner. The main meal on Sundays is at noon, when guests are present, but Mrs. Griffiths feels it would be better for Clyde to come to a meal with just the family.

Dillard invites Clyde on a weekend excursion with him, Zella, and Rita. Clyde puts him off, saying he has too much work at the moment. He begins to talk himself into going when he receives the dinner invitation. He is excited at this turn of events; he thinks at last he is accepted into the family. He buys some new clothes for the dinner despite his aunt’s telling him that it is not necessary. When Clyde arrives, Mrs. Griffiths is impressed with his appearance and notes his resemblance to Gilbert while fighting down the realization that Clyde is more attractive than her son is. Myra is impressed when she arrives. Gilbert flies through, stating that he cannot stay for dinner. Bella arrives with two of her friends, Bertine and Sondra Finchley. Sondra strikes up a conversation with Clyde, who sees the contrast between her and Rita. Sondra is quite taken with Clyde; she sees how much better looking he is than Gilbert, who is not very popular around the younger set anyway. Afterward, Clyde hopes he may somehow meet Sondra again.

Not long after the dinner, Mr. Griffiths makes a tour of his factory. When he sees Clyde working at hard labor in his sleeveless shirt, he is bothered that a nephew of his should be found in this situation. He tells Gilbert to find Clyde a better position and to raise his salary to twenty-five dollars. Gilbert decides to put him in the stamping room, which is filled with female laborers. Clyde is to keep track of the pieces made by each worker. Gilbert warns him that, as a member of the Griffiths family, he will be given no latitude when it comes to his treatment of the female workers. Clyde understands completely and is eager to go to work, dressed in a suit for once.