The Devil in the White City By Erik Larson Summary and Analysis Part III: Chapter 31 - One Good Turn

Summary

The Ferris wheel takes its first cargo-less test spin. While the compartments designed to carry passengers are not yet attached to the wheel, people celebrate the first successful rotation of the wheel and are hopeful the attraction will be done soon.

In the meantime, Spanish royalty Infanta Eulalia visits the fair. She brushes off many of the events that have been specially prepared and created for her. She envies the liberated way of the Chicago women she sees, and she sometimes acts accordingly. The infanta seems regretful to have to leave Chicago at the end of her visit, although the people of Chicago feel more than snubbed by her Highness.

Analysis

Ferris wheel construction progress once again infuses hope that the fair will be more successful in the coming weeks. Larson uses this chapter to project Chicago's declining moral climate during the 1890s, especially in reference to women. Excusing nonconforming behavior to be the standard in Chicago, much of the population either ignores or embraces signs of social norms falling away. Chicago life enchants a foreign woman, who acts less than appropriately once she's exposed to the freedoms of the city. Loosening societal standards serve as a reminder that Holmes has been getting away with murder for a long time — literally.

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