The Devil in the White City By Erik Larson Summary and Analysis Part III: Chapter 37 - Independence Day

Summary

Along with thousands and thousands of other people, Minnie, Anna, and Holmes attend the Fourth of July celebration at the fair. The event is an elaborate production of images and sounds. Storms threaten the festivities, but bad weather manages to stay away for the fireworks production. However, afterward, dark clouds chase the fairgoers, including Holmes and his entourage, toward the exit and to the trains. Upon return to the flat, Holmes makes Anna an offer she can't refuse. Holmes wants Anna and Minnie to travel to the East coast with him and then sail to Europe. He says he wants Anna to check out art schools because he thinks she is talented. Anna accepts the offer. The next day, Holmes decides to take Anna on a tour of his World's Fair Hotel while Minnie stays back and packs for the trip.

Analysis

Larson employs the use of the stormy weather at the fair to create a shift in the mood and to serve as foreshadowing for Anna's death. The contrast and convergence of light and dark at the fair are symbolic of the themes of good and evil reflected in the nature in Burnham and Holmes, respectively, throughout the novel. In this chapter, Burnham's and Holmes's worlds collide, hence the juxtaposition of images of light and dark.

Anna writes a letter to her aunt in Texas, announcing that she will no longer have to be responsible for Anna. Enjoying a growing sense of independence, something fostered by Holmes, Anna expresses sheer excitement for her prospects studying abroad. Holmes knows exactly how to manipulate the situation to lure Anna to her death and have the string of events all play out exactly as Holmes wishes. Ironically, the scene's set on Independence Day, a day when Anna actually becomes more dependent on Holmes.

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