An American Tragedy Book 3, Chapters 28-29 Summary

Theodore Dreiser

Book 3, Chapters 28-29 Summary

Mrs. Griffiths arrives at the jail late one night, but waits until the next morning to see Clyde. He is overjoyed to see her, and she thanks God that He has gotten her this far and is sure that He will see to Clyde’s release. She tells Clyde that she is acting as a reporter for a Denver newspaper in order to make money to come back East to see him and be with him. While she initially believed in Clyde’s innocence, his weak positive response shakes her faith in him.

Mrs. Griffiths sees Belknap and Jephson and asks them to pray for her success in getting her son freed. The Griffiths of Lycurgus want nothing to do with her or with Clyde and adamantly refuse to pay for attorneys to launch an appeal. Belknap and Jephson, seeing Mrs. Griffiths, are sure that she does not have the two thousand dollars necessary for an appeal. They are, however, impressed with her faith. They come up with a plan by which Mrs. Griffiths will give lectures about Clyde’s innocence, relaying the facts as she sees them, and raise money for the appeal. She agrees with this, seeing this as yet another of God's provisions on her mission to free Clyde.

When the day comes for the sentence to be passed, Clyde is accompanied by his mother, who sits near him to take her correspondence. Judge Oberwaltzer proclaims that Clyde will be sentenced to death. He will be transferred to the state prison in Auburn, where he will await execution. Mrs. Griffiths only smiles, sure that God will see that her son lives. She explains to the reporters that she agreed to act as a correspondent as the only means of procuring money to be with Clyde.

Clyde is transferred to Auburn. He is given a prison hair cut and the striped uniform of the state penitentiary. He is appalled at being included with the other criminals on Death Row. He is even more upset that he is so close to the place of execution. Mrs. Griffiths comes to see him on the weekly visiting day, shocked by his haggard appearance. She explains her plan to give lectures to raise money. The appeal has been filed, so it will be over a year until it can come up before the court. After she leaves, Clyde hears the despairing cries of a man who is awaiting his execution.