An American Tragedy Book 3, Chapters 7-8 Summary

Theodore Dreiser

Book 3, Chapters 7-8 Summary

Over the weekend, Clyde suffers from mental visions of being hunted down and caught. He obsesses about the three men who saw him in the woods. Sondra worries about his seeming distraction, wondering if he is feeling all right. He resolves to act normally lest somehow he would be suspected. He throws his wet suit into the lake, wrapped to a stone, in an effort to cover his tracks.

Clyde joins the group on a boat trip to the golf club. One of the men, Burchard, rocks the boat back and forth, and Jill asks him if he is trying to drown them. This causes Clyde to wince as if he had been struck. He thought that things would be different after he rid himself of Roberta, but now everything is at risk if he cannot pull himself together.

Clyde wonders if Roberta’s death would be in the papers already, but they have not arrived. Sondra, however, receives a phone call from a friend with the news that a couple was drowned at Big Bittern Lake. The groups hopes it is not someone they knew (since, as Burchard states, it would put a crimp on the fun for a while). Suddenly, Clyde thinks of his footprints on the lake shore. He also fears that the three men who met him will be able to identify him.

The papers soon arrive and Clyde is horrified to find that Roberta’s “companion” is suspected to be the killer. The three men have given a description of Clyde, and an all-points bulletin is out to catch him at all nearby train stations. He thinks again about giving his name as Clifford Golden and Carl Graham, and only now realizes that the initials are the same as his. Sondra again wonders what is wrong with him.

Mason, Heit, and several local officials have determined that the group Clyde is with has gone up to Bear Lake, and so they set out to catch him. Clyde has indeed gone camping with Sondra and the others, but he wanders off into the woods by himself. An inner voice warns him to take off running, but he does not. A man, Nicholas Kraut, approaches him and asks if he is Clyde Griffiths. Clyde thinks about denying this, but he decides to tell the truth. Kraut explains that he is a deputy sheriff sent to arrest him for the murder of Roberta Alden. Clyde decides to deny everything, but Kraut says that he must take him in anyway. He draws out some handcuffs, but Clyde says they will not be necessary. He begs Kraut not to take him back to the camp where Sondra and the others are sure to see him. Kraut agrees and marches him back through the woods.