I think that something is definitely going to happen with Prendergast. If you look at the last page of Part I in the book, Larson mentions something about a “young Irish immigrant” who “sank still more deeply into madness, the preamble to an act that would shock the nation and destroy what Burnham dreamed would be the single greatest moment of his life” (109). Well, that’s pretty ominous. Obviously, Prendergast is going to do something bad -- something really bad. What could it be? So far, all we know about Prendergast is that he is a poor immigrant. He is an avid supporter of Chicago’s mayor, Carter Harrison. Also, he’s crazy. From what the book has said about Prendergast, Prendergast appears to be expecting a job from Harrison. Using what I’ve read from the book thus far, I think that Prendergast is going to do something very bad, and it might even change the course of the World’s Fair. Prendergast may not have that much of a plot, but I think he is definitely important.
I agree with Jiwei and Chris, Prendergast is a very sketchy character. The initial description of him was of a cranky newsstand owner, which in itself isn't a very good thing. However, as Jiwei pointed out, larson's descriptions of him kept getting worse. Instead of just being a cranky old man, I'm starting to actually view him as a psychopath, albeit in a different way than Holmes. Holmes is 100% psychopath all of the time, while Prendergast seems to be slowly getting closer to a breaking point. Larson keeps on hinting things about a very dark future for Pendergast. Further into his introduction in the novel, Larson gives this line, "That Prendergast was a troubled young man was clear; that he might be dangerous seemed impossible.". That almost certainly shows that something bad is going to happen involving him, and most likely, the people he keeps on writing letters to.
Nice job -- way to build off another posting!
I agree with Jiwei that Prendergast is going to do something pretty bad. The overall tone of the novel and the way it treats mental instability makes me think he's up to no good. I thought the phrase about him inserted into the end of part one was really clever, and an interesting find too. I don’t think I would've caught it if you hadn't pointed it out, and I think with these subtle clues Larson is trying to key us into the future of Prendergast's actions. After going back and reading the end of part one I got really curious as to whether Larson had inserted some other foreshadowing about Prendergast. Obviously I couldn't reread the entire book, but I read the prologue again because I thought there might be some clues to what he might do since I vaguely remembered mention of the fair as a whole. Reading, I found this: ". . . an assassin had transformed the closing ceremony from what was to have been the century’s greatest celebration into a vast funeral" (5-6). I’m not sure if the assassin being referred to is Predergast, but I think it might be. H. H. Holmes seems much too secretive to be labeled as such, and he is talked about separately in the prologue's narrative. This statement also seems to link up with the one at the end of part one. Additionally, considering Predergast's mental instability, assassination of someone does not seem out of the option. Prendergast seems to be becoming some sort of direct link between the dark world of H. H. Holmes and the coveted world of Burnham’s White City.
Nice specific reference to the text! Larson spends quite a bit of time focusing on those battling mental illness in this novel... I wonder if that is something that interests him or if he is making some type of statement about the treatment of mental illness during that time? Perhaps stating that mental illness and its treatment (or lack thereof) had some hand in the events in Chicago. It makes me think of "The Yellow Wallpaper" and the negligence of the husband to his wife's woes.
Prendergast is definetly a sisnsiter and creepy character which adds just another layer to the thickness of the plot. He seems to almost be a bridge in a way between Holmes's messed up reality and the beauty of Burnham's White City. Larkin incorporates foreshadowing as a way for readers to key in on a more important future for this character and gives you a reason to remember his name and just simply wonder about the possiblities.
Prendergast serving as a bridge between the two main characters and their worlds is interesting...
When we were first introduced to the character of Patrick Eugene Joseph Prendergast, I wondered if he would be relevant to the main subject in the book (The World Exposition). At first I thought he might just be serving as another illustration as to life in Chicago during this time period. Yes, his introduction did allude to him “shaping the destiny of the World’s Columbian Exposition”, but the following mini-biography caused me to zone out a bit. I did, however, find Prendergast’s madness interesting. It was entertaining (and slightly amusing) to read about his obsession with mailing out little post cards. The fact that he had a political obsession was an immediate red-flag, and the intensity with which he held on to his beliefs proved that he was capable of a dramatic act later on. Chris’s find about the “assassin” in the closing ceremony fits in with Prendergast’s implied fate. I’m glad that he went back to check the prologue, as before I hadn’t seen any possible direct correlation between Prendergast and the fair.As I was going through the story, the bits about Prendergast came at auspicious moments and it became more obvious that he would tie into the plot. When he made appearances as a reoccurring character, I hoped his story might serve as a connection between Holmes’s story and that of the architects. Alec alluded to the connection between the two stories by claiming the Prendergast was a “bridge” connecting Holmes’s reality and Burnham’s White City. Chris also noted that Prendergast was becoming a link between the two contrasting worlds. My hope for the character is that he becomes more than a symbolic link connecting two themes, but a solid, historical link that brings the two stories together.
I agree with the consensus that Prendergast is a sinister and shady character who could very well end up becoming a main link in the 2 plots we have been progressing through thus far in the novel. I find the way Larson keeps incorporating him into the story at obscure times to be very suspicious, as Prendergast is really the only minor sub plot that has reoccurred thus far in the novel. Other sub plots or strange people or groups, such as the Whitechapel Society, have been briefly mentioned but haven’t in any way been truly associated or tied with the 2 main plots of the book. The piece of the prologue that Chris pointed out could indeed be a reference connecting this mysterious character to the World’s Fair. I am very interested to see how Prendergast’s character pans out in the remaining of the book now, and I expect it to relate to the World’s Fair in some way now after reflecting on the way the Larson has chosen to present him thus far. Quick Note: Upon spell checking this I noticed that when I first misspelled “Prendergast” it was marked as incorrect but when spelled correctly it is not acknowledged as incorrect or not in Word’s dictionary which leads me to think he may be a figure of historical significance who may become involved later.
Posting from Paige AndresenPatrick Prendergast, for lack of a better way of putting it, is a complete freaking lunatic. A delightfully entertaining lunatic (as Mimi talked about), sure, but a lunatic either way. I wanted to respond to this blog posting because I had just started to really question Prendergast's role in the novel as well. In fact, my first discussion point in the Part II study guide was "What's the point of Prendergast's story? Will he do something more relevant? is he just there to show the boss/machine relationship?" I believe Jiwei and Chris have now answered this question. I did notice the things they pointed out when I first read them, but they quickly faded from my mind as the storyline went on to other things. I think it says a lot about Larson as an author that he was able to incorporate Prendergast so flawlessly. In my opinion, the build up to the true nature of Prendergast couldn't be better. At first, it's hardly noticeable: his point of view is brought up very rarely in the first part. Then in the second part, as the fair progresses quickly, so does his storyline. It's not how much of his story is shared that makes me question his character; Olmstead's side of things is brought up just as much, if not more. It's the way it's presented with seemingly no rhyme or reason. At first I had believed Prendergast was put into the story to incorporate a commoner's view of the World's Fair, but Prendergast doesn't think about the fair much at all. The way he was walking in circles in Humboldt Park near the end of Part II made me sure that there was going to be something more to his story.Its become obvious that Prendergast is crazy, but he's nothing like Holmes. He holds none of the same charm or charisma and his intentions to support Harrison as mayor initially seem innocent enough. Because he is presented this way, I am led to believe that he is truly insane. Holmes is obviously sick, twisted, and demented, but I would not describe him as insane. He knows exactly what he is doing and carries out elaborate plans to satisfy his horrifying cravings. If Prendergast does end up killing people, I doubt it will be done for the sheer satisfaction of taking away human life.
From a writer's standpoint, Prendergast is one great big act of foreshadowing. His actions and, indeed, his entire character all point to him having an important role later on. The author's depiction of him shows a clear and slow descent into madness. Larson paints him as a man who sees himself as completely normal, while doing acts that most people would find unnerving. The constant letters to people, the unpredictable actions, the violent mood swings, and several other characters' reactions to his notes all point to him being a man with severe mental issues. Even more, his decay seems to be accelerating. Early on, he was content to send letters to people he considered his associates, urging them to “vote for this candidate, my good sir,” leaving several lawyers and politicians perplexed as to who this “Prendergast” fellow was, and why he had such poor penmanship. Now he is wandering around outside in the rain, misunderstanding how to wear a hat and walking into lampposts. Even more than his slowly shattering psyche, events seem to be conniving against him in such a was as to produce a perfect storm. He had spent so much time and effort trying to get Harrison elected, and convinced himself that, once he succeeded, the man would reward him for his valiant efforts. Now Harrison is on the throne, with nary a thought of Prendergast in his head. Prendergast might be able to delude himself into waiting for some time, but it is only a matter of time before the dam breaks.Also, I apologize for my lateness. I thought the the blog question was due TUESDAY at midnight. Evidently, I was mistaken. I have no excuse.