1. The rational explanation laid blame on the forces of change thatduring this time had convulsed Chicago. Amid so much turmoil it wasunderstandable that the work of a young and handsome doctor would go unnoticed.As time passed, however, even sober men and women began to think of him inless-than-rational terms.
(6) While introducing one of the main characters, the prologue setsthe stage for the book. It describes evil that migrated its way into a periodof greatness and of “the forces of change that…. convulsed Chicago”.
Theprologue sets the stage for all the gruesome details to come and paves the wayfor good and evil. 2. It was so easy to disappear, so easy to deny knowledge, so veryeasy in the smoke and din to mask that something dark had taken root. This wasChicago, on the eve of the greatest fair in history. (12) Theauthor, Erik Larson, describes Chicago, a big, chaotic city, as a place whereone could easily disappear. It was a place where anything could happen; aperson standing on the street could get hit by a car. It was a very good placefor H.H.
Holes to carry out all his devious plans because he knew that all hisactions would be overlooked. It is also interesting to note that as Larsonofficially introduces Holmes’ character into the book, the details surroundinghis arrival are very dark. The mere fact that he arrives and finds chaos and smellsof slaughterhouses foreshadows all the disgusting and horrific murders he willcommit.
3. Holmes…. walked with confidence and dressed well, conjuring animpression of wealth and achievement. He was twenty-six years old. His heightwas five feet, eight inches… He had dark hair and striking blue eyes, oncelikened to the eyes of a Mesmerist… “They are blue.
Great murderers, like greatmen in other walks of activity, have blue eyes.” …To women as yet unaware ofhis private obsessions, it was an appealing delicacy. He broke prevailing rulesof casual intimacy: He stood too close, stared too hard, touched too much andlong. And women adored him for it. (35-36) Thedescription of Holmes is charming but chilling. His eyes are described as “greatmurderers” because they mesmerize females so well. He knew he was handsome andused it to his advantage to get what he wanted.
He was the realistic definitionof “you little devil” when used to flirt because of his ability to make womenfeel loved and important which made it easier for him to gain their trust. Itis important to note that throughout the story he always targeted women, whowere unhappy with themselves or their current situation. Unhappiness ordepression, this was the weakness of females and Holmes knew this.
He knew thatinternally they refused to be lonely which is why he always creeped up and madethem his prey. 4. The dome was too much—-not too tallto be built, simply too proud for its context. It would diminish Hunt’sbuilding and in doing so diminish Hunt and disrupt the harmony of otherstructures on the Grand Court. (114) The character of H.H.
Holmes can be alluded to thedome of the Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building. Holmes’ is an alluring man,however, he has a psychotic nature to kill. Now, at this point in the story,that nature is “not too tall to be built” meaning that it is gradually progressinginto something atrocious and will diminish any form of sanity left within himcausing him to disrupt not only the harmony of himself but of the lives ofothers. While he still has the chance to suppress it, the nature will eat himalive to the point of no return. 5. At first Burnham tried the obliqueapproach.
“We are now organizing a special interior decorative andarchitectural force to handle this part,” he wrote to Davis, “and I have thehonor to offer the services of my department to yours in such matters. I feel adelicacy in having my men suggest to yours artistic arrangements, forms anddecorations of exhibits, without your full approval, which I herebyrespectfully ask.” (157) The fair is essentially called the White City andon the front cover of this book, readers will find the Administration buildingon the front cover in white surrounded by darkness.
It is almost like the WorldFair is purification for the city of Chicago. Amidst all its chaos anddestruction, people inside and outside of Chicago seemed to find pleasure and abit of solace in the place. Due to this, directors of the fair, includingBurnham, people of Chicago, and people of America were prideful in the creationof a masterpiece. They elevate themselves to a Godlike status and want othernations of the world to bow to them. 6. The skies cleared and stayed clear.Roadways dried, and newly open flowers perfumed the air. Exhibitors graduallycompleted their installations, and electricians removed the last misconnectsfrom the elaborate circuits that linked the fair’s nearly 200,000 incandescentbulbs.
Throughout the fairgrounds, on Burnham’s orders, clean-up effortsintensified. (251) This description of the fair can be used todescribe Holmes. Initially when the fair first began, it was very untidy,unpresentable, and did not really know how to operate but now the sky is clearand new flowers have opened. This represents Holmes when he first came toChicago. It was not in its best condition nor was he, at least not in theaspects of his monstrous deeds.
He was new and now doors have opened for him tobloom in different aspects of his life. It also represents how after everymurder Holmes committed, he blossomed into a new person ready to commitanother. 7. The threat of violence was as palpableas the deepening cold of autumn… The White City had drawn men and protectedthem; the Black City now welcomed them back, on the eve of winter, with filth,starvation, and violence. (323) Just as the White City had drawn men in and protectedthem, so did Holmes. Holmes is a replica of the city of Chicago at a morecatastrophic level. Chicago and Holmes attracted women and seemed so appealingbut they did not know what was in store for them.
For many of them, they hopedfor prosperity but got starvation and violence. 8. The search delighted Holmes. Itsatisfied his profound need for attention and gave him a sense of power overthe detective.
He knew that Geyer’s search would be in vain. (351-352) Holmes liked power because it gave him an incentiveto dig deeper and do more horrendous things. The thought of having power elevatedhis motivation to kill. One would think that this could be caused by those whobullied him in his childhood days. Maybe he reminiscences on how powerlessthose children made him feel, so he makes others feel this way.
It is writtenthat search delighted him, it should be changed to the search for escape that allhis victims craved and looked for delighted him. He stood nearby and smiledwhen his victims searched for a way out; when they were rendered helpless, hetook pleasure in it. 9. “….
Iwish to say that I am but a very ordinary man, even below average in physical strengthand mental ability, and to have planned and executed the stupendous amount ofwrong-doing that has been attributed to me would have been wholly beyond mypower….” (369) These are all lies. Holmes planned and executedalmost-perfect plans of death. He is a conniving killer.
He fails to believethat he is guilty because he does not want to let go of the power andsatisfaction he had when killing all those people. The police department anddetective offices do not even notice the murders of those he killed. 10. “The fair’s greatest impact lay in how it changedthe way Americans perceived their cities and their architects. It primed thewhole of America—-not just a few rich architectural patrons—to think ofcities in a way they never had before. (373-374) While the fair itself impacted society, italso left the impact of Henry Webster Mudgett, alias H.H. Holmes, America’sfirst serial killer according to most historians.
The story of Holmes leftpeople worried about their safety. They worried if their neighbor was a killerand feared for their lives. The level of suspicion and unsafety will rise tonew points that soon citizens may not be able to handle well. People will nolonger look at each other the same. Holmes would have inspired many others tocommit the same dreadful crimes as he and obtain the same gratification.