The Devil in the White City


TheDevil in the White City

Informationgathering involves the use of various primary and secondary sources.Information is said to be primary if the sources are first-hand innature. First-hand information may involve making the observation onan event. Secondary information is obtained from secondary sourcessuch as reading from books. Also, extracting information from thelibrary is a secondary source of information (Samuel 2014). Primaryinformation does not contain elements of bias as it is first hand innature. Secondary information may be distorted and thus contain a lotof biases. In carrying out research for decision making, theinformation used should be accurate. The information should have ahigh degree of reliance so as to give quality results. The followingis a reported discussion of the novel The Devil in the White House.

Thebook is categorized under nonfiction but put in the form of a novelstyle by Erik Larson. It revolves around two characters, anarchitect Daniel Burnham and a serial killer Dr. H. H. Holmes whosefates are intertwined by the actions of the story (Samuel 2014).Theauthor uses real characters throughout the novel. The novel revolvesaround the time of the construction of 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.The author uses the two characters to pass the message of contrast intheir lives. The architect has to rise above the main challenge ofthe murder of his partner who is paramount in the project of thecity. The involvement of the key character, Thomas Edison illustratesthe importance of the project to be undertaken. The main constructionis meant to commemorate the landing of the Columbus.

DanielBurnham, who is the architect, has a deep desire to fulfill the dreamof constructing the white city. On the contrary, Holmes, who is adoctor by profession, uses his own tactics to trap people and laterkill them (Samuel 2014). The main victims of this serial killer areyoung women who fall prey to the doctor because of his handsomelooking appearance. Burnham has overcome all the odds includingpolitics and unbearable weather conditions to build the famous whitecity. The author, however, portrays Dr Holmes as a selfish individualwho constructs his palatial home and uses it as a torture zone forhis victims. The novel revolves around the politics of the UnitedStates and the problem encountered from the poor political systems.

Thereare subdivisions in the plot of the book, each portraying a distinctthematic area. Four distinct sections expose the flow of events inthe novel as portrayed by the author. The setting of the novel isalso in two distinct localities, the first section comprising threeparts taking place in Chicago, and the rest of the novel happening inPhiladelphia. The epic periods of the novel also vary according tothe setting and this ranges between 1890-1893 which take place inChicago and 1895 happening at Philadelphia. The country of setting ofthe novel is The United States of America. Our author succeeds in theusage of the characters and also in the setting of the novel (Samuel2014).

Thehistorical period focused by the novel is the years between 1890 and1895 the period mainly dominated by the presidents James Harrison andGrover Cleveland. Setting of the book by the author happens in thelater years of 19thcentury and gives a clear picture of the Chicago city. It is a periodthat is highly dominated by capitalist system of economics. Thenecessities for human survival are portrayed as being deplorable. Italso focuses on the various monopolies that dominate the state bythat period. The construction site is faced by the problematicaspects of food and water. It is also the period that is dominated bythe rising American star in the various sectors of the economy(Larson 2003). There is a line drawn by the novelist in theexposition of the social-economical issues in the society.

Narrationtakes the position of a politician who is wishing his nation goodwilland also in the perspective of a writer who wants to portray thegoods and evils happening in society. A politician’s point of viewis depicted by the various instances of economic analysis. Thepolitician is portrayed as through compelling issues such as the pooreconomic times. It also shows the fight for the availability of basicneeds for human survival such as water and food (Larson 2011). Thecharacters used are important in the development of the theme ofpolitics and economic growth. The epic period of the novel and theconstruction of the white city is characterized by poor livingconditions. Shortage of food and water characterize the city and itsresidents.

Awriter’s perspective is portrayed by the many instances ofcriticism of the events happening in the society. As noted thatLiterature is always married to politics, it is crucial to highlightthis aspect in the novel. The writer exposes the many evils happeningin the lives of the population using two main conflicting characters.The two characters have distinct lives and represent the classesfound in the American society. The writer also explains the events ina chronological way such that the reader can grasp the themesdeveloped. The writer also uses various styles of writing to pass theinformation. The construction site is faced by the problematicaspects of food and water. It is also the period that is dominated bythe rising American star in the various sectors of the economy. Thereis a line drawn by the novelist in the exposition of thesocial-economical issues in the society.

Thepicture portrayed about Chicago city is the most entertaining part ofthe book. It is given a vivid description of the beauty it contains.Also, the writer sets the construction of the white city in Chicagoto signify the importance of the city. However, there is a contrastin the way Chicago is also portrayed as a place where one candisappear without notice. The city is also depicted to contain manypeople and majority of this group are single women. The interestingpart in the scenario is the level of immorality and the way it ispromoted by the residents. The author portrays crime as the order ofthe day in Chicago city. The author uses the two characters to passthe message of contrast in their lives. The architect has to riseabove the main challenge of the murder of his partner who isparamount in the project.

Theinvolvement of the key character, Thomas Edison illustrates theimportance of the project to be undertaken. The main construction ismeant to commemorate the landing of the Columbus.

Anotherinteresting part is how Burnham meets his wife and what followed.Burnham is drawn out as a character who is not very much educated andhave not attended any mentionable school but is in a position to havethe determination and focus to embark on such a great project. Therise of Burnham in the field of Architecture is another area ofmarvel to any reader, because he is a mere normal person with noacademic credentials. Burnham is portrayed as a character full ofgood morals and very respectful (Samuel 2014).

Thirdly,there is the new picture of Chicago full of life and reality. Thischapter of the book contrasts the picture that was portrayed by thecharacters of Holmes in the ‘old’ Chicago. The author portraysChicago as a new city to be and full of pleasure in all aspects. Theresidents are portrayed as sophisticated people in their livelihood.

Fourthly,excitement is found through the exposition given in chapter threewhere Holmes is the main character. He is portrayed as a handsomegentleman who is skillful in deceiving young ladies. The interestingpart is how he behaves in an innocent manner as during the time hewas seeking for employment.

Thelast instance of happiness is chapter seventeen where the authorconcentrates with the polishing of the true character of Burnham. Themain character is portrayed as full of optimism and life.

Thenovel depicts an aspect of boring scenes to the reader. One instanceis the portrayal of the inferiority of female characters. Themorality levels of the female characters are depicted as deplorableand wanting. The novelist also exposes the moral degradation ofHolmes and to some extent it is fearful to the reader. The manyflashbacks used in the novel are tiresome to read and analyze (Larson2011).

Asa matter of fact, any other material by the author is highlyrecommendable for further studies. Also, a material containingcharacters of the novel will also be resourceful in the future. Thereare various matters that the author portrays using the characters,and this might be helpful in the future of the reader. The author hassuccessfully twisted events to suit the various themes that he wantsto develop. The piece of work is rich in the usage of the severalfigures of speech.

Additionally,there is a gap created by the author and can be improved in futurepieces of work. The arrangement of events requires to be evaluated toincorporate emerging issues. There is also a need for the author tocreate vivid pictures of the many moments that were overlooked. Theauthor can improve the setting of the novel to incorporate the manychanges that have happened in the modern society (Samuel 2014).


Interculturalrelationships have been fostered by cross-cultural psychology and thecultural communication. The world being independent has forced manypeople to interact with other cultures. A good inter-culturalrelationship fosters trade among the countries, and this contributesto global peace. The culture of America is the dominant way ofthinking and the behaviors of the Americans. There were ethnicsubcultures that affected the way the people viewed things. TheAmerican culture is dominantly full of middle-class families who havestatus in the society. Intermarriages led to the development of newcultures in the world.


Larson,E. (2003). Thedevil in the white city: Murder, magic, and madness at the fair that changed America.New York: Crown Publishers.

Larson,E. (2011). Inthe garden of beasts: Love, terror, and an American family inHitler`s Berlin.Carlton North, Vic: Scribe Publications.

Samuel,L. R. (2014). NewYork City 1964: A cultural history.