Summary Of The Devil In The White City

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Throughout “The Devil in the White City,” author Erik Larson uses contrasting descriptions to portray the sharp differences between the magnificence of the fair and the harsh and cruel reality of Chicago. The awe-ing descriptions of the fair and the dark interpretation of the streets of Chicago comments on the beautiful facade that the Gilded age produced. The temporary and shallow grandeur of the fair masked the poverty stricken city and gave a false sense of elegance to a city deep in despair. Larsons vivid descriptions of the beauty and elegance of the fair serves to reinforce the idea of its temporary masking of the city. He describes the fair as an art piece, a historian calling it, “no more the white city on the lake… it is dreamland.”…show more content…
-- when it disappears-- when the enchantment comes to an end?... everything will seem small and insignificant.” (289) There was fear for the fate of chicago after the presence of such an unrivaled dreamland had ended. Throughout the Gilded age, there were frequent depressions that were covered by a false sense of wealth and elegance, much like the fair had served to cover the impoverished chicago with culture and beauty, “The white city had drawn men in and protected them; the black city now welcomed them back, on the eve of winter, with filth, starvation, and violence.” (323) The grandeur of the fair would fade, and chicago would be lift to face the harsh reality of poverty and depression. The cruel city engrossed in despair would unavoidably have to re emerge from behind the fairs convincing veil of promise. Much like the Gilded age itself, a disguise for depression, despair, and poverty crafted with false elegance, the fair served as a mask for Chicago. It hid Chicago's dark secrets and flaws under the bright lights of wonderland. Through vivid descriptive language, Larson was able provide equal opposites, a city deep in distress, and its exquisite distraction, “In the end it is a story of the ineluctable conflict between good and evil. daylight and darkness, the white city and the black.”

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