An American Tragedy Book 3, Chapters 13-14 Summary

Theodore Dreiser

Book 3, Chapters 13-14 Summary

Smillie gives his report to Mr. Griffiths and Gilbert. Gilbert points out to his father that he tried to warn him. Silently, he is glad to see Sondra Finchley put on the spot, believing as he does that she took up with Clyde only to get back at himself. Mr. Griffiths partially blames himself for leaving Clyde to his own devices, especially being put in a supervisory role over a group of women. Smillie informs Mr. Griffiths that Mr. Brookhart has returned; Mr. Griffiths requests Smillie to ask Brookhart to come to see him. He vows that he will not spend one penny on Clyde to rescue him of the consequences of his crime, should he be proven guilty.

Mr. Brookhart is unable to get anything out of Clyde, so the matter is turned over to Mr. Catchuman, another attorney attached to Mr. Griffiths. When Catchuman interviews Clyde, he is deputed to find a lawyer who will be able to represent him, thus putting as much distance as possible between Mr. Griffiths and his nephew. Mr. Catchuman cannot elicit any more information from Clyde that has not already has been discussed. Mason takes Clyde to the shores of Big Bittern Lake where he uncovers the tripod, but Clyde still refuses to answer any of Mason’s questions, saying that the tripod is not his and he did not take his camera with him.

Meanwhile, Mason basks in popularity among both Republicans and Democrats, which speaks well for the upcoming election. He asks for a special sitting of the Supreme Court, which would require an immediate session of the Grand Jury. Kellogg, a high-ranking Democrat in the county, is incensed that Mason has risen to such heights. He suggests Alvin Belknap as a defense attorney for Clyde. Belknap had been involved in a similar situation between two women in his youth, though his father had taken care of the pregnant one financially. Belknap visits Clyde, carrying a letter from Catchuman authorizing him to represent Clyde. His understanding manner disarms Clyde’s defensiveness, and he tells Belknap the true version of the story, though he insists he did not plan to take Roberta up to the lake to murder her. Belknap secretly doubts that he can get a jury to believe that, but he assures Clyde that he will do his best. He warns Clyde not to speak to anyone but himself or his partner, Mr. Jephson. Belknap sees Clyde's remorse and begins to feel sorry for him.