Friday, March 15, 2013

Devil Part III: "The White City"

Choose a quote or passage from this section of the reading and reflect on its significance. The reflection can be a personal reaction, a literary analysis, a comparative observation (to other literature we've explored), or a springboard to deeper discussion with your peers. In essence, you are participating in an interactive discussion with one another. We will be looking for critical thinking, unique perspective, insightful questions and observations, as well as genuine interest in what others have to say about the novel.

74 comments:

  1. “If evenings at the fair were seductive, the nights were ravishing. The lamps that laced every building and walkway produced the most elaborate demonstration of illumination ever attempted and the first large-scale test of alternating current. The fair alone consumed three times as much energy as the entire city of Chicago. These were important engineering milestones, but what visitors adored was the sheer beauty of seeing so many lights ignited in one place at one time.” Page 254

    I chose this quote because it’s a good example of how the author describes the fair throughout the book. The visual descriptions he writes are very vivid and easy to see in one’s mind. The words he uses are varied and interesting and are very effective at conveying his messages. I also like how he doesn’t just describe things in terms of sight, sound, and smell, but also conveys the emotional feelings behind them. In this quote, for example, he explains very eloquently the quantity and brightness of the lights, but also explains the wonder and excitement that the patrons of the fair felt upon seeing them. This gives the reader an idea of what the fair really meant to Chicago and its citizens. Another thing the author does that I like is use facts and details to support his descriptions. In this quote, he says that the fair consumed three times as much electricity as Chicago. Facts like this help the reader to understand the story as something that actually happened. They make it feel more real. The sentences are fun to read because they have a kind of rhythm to them and sound catchy. For example, in this quote, “demonstration of illumination” has a rhyming element that makes the sentence more rhythmic and auditorily pleasing. The phrase “in one place at one time” has a kind of cadence to it as well. The sentence structures employed throughout the book almost make it sound poem-like. This device is effective in that it keeps the reader interested in reading the book and it gives stylistic consistency to the separate plotlines.

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    1. "The White City had drawn men and protected them; the Black City now welcomed them back, on the eve of winter, with filth, starvation, and violence."
      This shows the great contrast from the current point in history to the future. The White City in this quote refers to a time of prosperity and job opportunity. Great chances are causing a boom in economic growth. Along with this is great positive changes for popular culture and women's rights. In addition, increased sanitary measures are enacted, as well as great architectural achievements, as mentioned in the book. The White City becomes a place of enchantment holding futures for families, independent women, and men, to increase their standards of living and pursue their most intricate dreams. However, eventually the city of Chicago goes through a drastic metamorphosis into the Black City. The Black City is most apparently referring to the side of Chicago that is deeper than just the surface. Internally, their is much crime and strife, such as Holmes murders, on top of many murders throughout the city. Crime violence starts, and many issues are found with health measures (though these are improved through this time period). Though this time period brought exponential improvements in living standards for the poor, the lower class still suffered from insufficient living, resulting in much crime. However, the Black City could also be referring to after the World Fair. When the extravagance ended, many people lost imperative jobs, and the world entered into a depression. This was an extreme chance from the benevolence of Chicago just a few ears earlier. I think that the view of Chicago (White vs. Black) is all about perception. Though Chicago experienced many downfalls in this period, the great heights it reached in finance, architecture, monetary sectors, and health standars certainly cannot be ignored.

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    2. I appreciate these observations of Larsen's artful use of language. Your in depth thinking and writing "bring to light" some things I hadn't considered, things like connecting rhythm to tone (Rachel) and color to symbolism (Bridget).

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  2. As average individuals, we rely on the media to let us know what’s going on in the world. In an age of instantaneous communication, we, as citizens of the internet, are privy to vast amounts of information from a variety of different sources. This allows for both an increased ability to spread falsehoods and ample opportunities for cross-referencing sources (if one takes the time to do so). At the turn of the century, communication was just beginning to become a major factor in the lives of many rural citizens. Media was not well regulated, and much of it was “Short on news, long on invention,” (287) such as the horrifying myths that were concocted about the Ferris Wheel at the World’s Fair. These falsehoods had the power to increase potential visitors’ apprehension about attending the fair, and may have drastically affected the fair’s popularity. Attendance at the fair seemed primarily based on the general public’s opinion of it, with great fluctuations occurring day to day on the number of visitors present. This is an example of media’s drastic effect on those it reached daily. However, is this profound influence the norm? It seems to me that most media, if incorrectly reported, would have no adverse impact on either my daily life or the lives of others. When I hear about crimes on the news, I take no action in response to them. My life goes on just as it would had I not seen that news story. During the time of Devil in The White City, international news would have had even less of an impact on individuals in rural areas. What does it matter to a farmer in the Midwest if a strange company on the east coast he’s never even heard of goes bankrupt? If this information was incorrect, would it change his life? Of course not. He would still plant and harvest crops as he always had done, completely forgetting about the company shortly after hearing it in the news. So how much does news impact your life? Would it affect you if the news was truly “long on invention”?

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    1. Alyssa, this is an area we haven't really discussed yet--a unique take on the text! Let's revisit this during our final discussion on Tuesday.

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  3. The quote I chose is about the Ferris Wheel and its seemingly unsafe outlook. On page 280, it is said "The wheel may not have been unsafe, but it looked unsafe." This quote was mainly chosen not because of the Wheel itself, but because it demonstrates a large theme in the book which is appearance vs. reality. The perfect example being Mr. Holmes. He's a charming man in appearance, but a monster in reality. There's also the fair itself which at first gives the appearance of quickly becoming a failure, at least financially, but in reality would go on to become a massive success. There's always an underlying factor of not judging the book by it's cover. However there is also contradiction to this idea. For example, the Prendgast story line. He appears to be entirely insane, and it turns out he has gone completely bonkers. Confirmed even further upon his murder of Mayor Harrison, which ironically assisted the fair by giving it an attendance of over 200,000 on closing day. There is always a flip-side to everything.

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    1. Austin, I liked the way you picked out a thematic element from the text and looked at it from various angles, thereby applying the theme to your own analysis. Bravo!

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  4. “The skies cleared and stayed clear. Roadways dried, and newly opened flowers perfumed the air. Exhibitors gradually completed their installations, and electricians removed the last misconnects from the elaborate circuits that linked the fair’s nearly 200,000 incandescent bulbs. Throughout the fairgrounds, on Burnham’s orders, clean-up efforts intensified.” (251)

    I really like this quote. It sort of displays the prosperity of the fair in its current state. It shows a complete night and day difference between when the fair first started to the fair right now. The part about the skies staying clear sorta displays an everlasting feeling of joy. That is probably similar to what a lot of people at the fair felt during this time. The next sentence in the quote also symbolizes something similar. The “newly opened flowers” remind me of the emergence of spring after a dark winter (which I hope will happen soon for us!). This is similar to the fair; after a long period of being incomplete, unkempt, and dirty, the fair is finally allowed to bloom open and expose its true beauty. The final sentences of the quote help expose the enormity and beauty of the fair itself. More completed exhibits, along with a cleaner fair, helped to truly make the fair what it was. I feel like the description of those two events helped give us a clear idea of what it took the make the fair that awesome. Finally, the part that really showed the enormity of the fair was when the quote mentioned the number of light bulbs that were there. 200,000 light bulbs. I don’t know about you, but 200,000 is a lot of light bulbs in that one place. The idea of all of those light bulbs lit up simultaneously in one place is really just mind-numbing. I felt like this quote really captured the amazingness of the fair and how quickly it came to be.

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    1. Jiwei, your analysis reveals your poetic side! Interesting, isn't it, that a nonfiction (research) book can be written in poetic prose...

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  5. “The possession he craved was a transient thing, like the scent of a fresh-cut hyacinth. Once it was gone, only another acquisition could restore it” (page 257).
    Although this quote is referring to why Holmes never kept his murder victims’ bodies as trophies, it is quite relevant to everything in life. Humans have a way of never letting themselves be fully satisfied. We’re always missing something. Why do upgrades exist? Once people acquire the latest phone, computer, etc., they begin to see the faults in it. The celebratory phase with every new product barely lasts a couple months before it begins losing its value and we realize that we need the next phone. Once we get it, the cycle restarts. As humans, we need to constantly progress; being stuck in the same spot forever is a depressing and pointless endeavor. The brain needs to experience growth for internal contentment. Holmes needed to keep himself engaged and murder seemed to be a method of fulfillment. The quote appeals to the sensory mind. One imagines the bright hues of the flower, hears it tear open, feels the soft petals, and smells the fresh pollen. “The possession he craved” is an inanimate idea. Through personification, it seems the “scent” is escaping, leaving Holmes and making him very eager for the next hyacinth. The deed would be old and joy could only come from doing it again. Similarly, looking at artwork from Elementary School doesn’t give you the same feeling of achievement as it did when you first created it. It’s cute to see what you did, but it doesn’t necessarily make you feel satisfied anymore. It also makes Holmes a slightly relatable person. Naturally, it is difficult to understand why Holmes did what he did. But this quote puts his thoughts into perspective. Demanding new things and then ditching them soon after is something everyone can relate to. It helps us to comprehend Holmes’s motives a little better.

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    1. Najeeha, your response is an artful reflection of your chosen passage. I especially liked the way you explored the line: "One imagines the bright hues of the flower, hears it tear open, feels the soft petals, and smells the fresh pollen." I also agree that humans are (by our very nature) easily discontented.

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  6. “Chicago had set its table with the finest linen and crystal— not out of any great respect for royalty but to show the world how fine a table it could set— only to have the guest of honor shun the feast for a lunch of sausage, sauerkraut, and beer.” (263). This heaviness Larson creates stemmed from Chicago’s throbbing heart after Spain’s emissary, the Infanta Eulalia, visited with frank disregard for the lavish activities the city set out to provide just for her. It reminded me of how, we, as human beings have the tendency to try too hard and unfortunately, for the wrong reasons. In a similar respect, the sense of approval Chicago was dying to receive made me think of a similar longing for acceptance that swallowed Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby. In addition, I can see parallels between the behavior of the Infanta Eulalia and the citizens of East Egg. They both exude an unappreciative aura and disinterest in the feelings of others. This snubness, in both instances, caught the westerners off guard. However, I found this quote most intriguing for embodying a much more immense symbolic value of Chicago’s long standing inferiority complex throughout the construction of the World’s Fair. When the chance to prove itself became a reality, the city was to be caught in a desperate venture to become more than just a symbol of packaged meat. More than anyone else, Daniel Burnham was constantly caught in a web of feelings of inadequacy. Despite this and all the obstacles thrown before him, he was able to surpass them because of his drive to conquer the high standards of the World’s Fair held in Paris. Although the Fair’s triumph surely eclipsed the grandeur of the Exposition Universelle— especially with the Ferris Wheel— it’s demise was rather torrential. Perhaps it was the same aesthetic fixation that Larson depicts in his prose, that brought on Gatsby’s unfortunate death, and also led to the unsatisfactory downfall of the Exposition in the Windy City.

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    1. Eleni--Perhaps it was the same aesthetic fixation that Larson depicts in his prose, that brought on Gatsby’s unfortunate death, and also led to the unsatisfactory downfall of the Exposition in the Windy City--superb observation!
      Making connections to literature (and thus to human nature) exposes universal themes that allow for deeper understanding of texts.

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  7. “The fair was so perfect, its grace and beauty like an assurance that for as long as it lasted nothing truly bad could happen to anyone, anywhere” (289).

    I chose this quote because of its irony and foreshadowing. The quote is foreshadowing the discovery of the missing girls. It is also ironic because while everyone else is enjoying the world fair and having a good time, there are girls being murdered by Holmes. This quote also reminds me of The Great Gatsby. There is a line in Gatsby that foreshadows his death in a similar way. Unlike in Gatsby though, the reader is aware of the foreshadowing in this novel.

    The contrast between the glamour of the fair and the horror of Holmes’ killings is stark. The killings show the darker side of the fair. One of the main themes of the novel is deception. The fair makes one think all is right with the world, but in fact there are terrible things happening just around the corner.

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  8. “The White City had drawn men and protected them; the Black City now welcomed them back, on the eve of winter, with filth, starvation, and violence” (323).
    When I read this quote I had two reactions, the first one being that it was rather ironic. The period of the White City is the same period that Holmes terrorized the city. He came to Chicago to use the fair as a cover to do his killings, which is the exact opposite of ‘drawing men and protecting them.’ Once the fair is over, Holmes leaves Chicago and the town of Englewod can return to safety, which is the opposite of the Black City. Holmes is the Devil who lived in the White City and twisted the dreams of those who came to see the fair.
    On the contrary, I also saw the quote for its context in the story. During the World’s Fair, Chicago was a majestic place. In the beginning, everyone was caught up in preparations, and then came the actual fair itself, but there came a time when all the magic ended and the White City would return back to the Black City it used to be. The fair ended with the third section, along with Carter Harrison’s life, signaling that the Black City that this quote so described was back in play. I found it to be rather sad, because all of the success that the mayor and the head architects felt that the fair had achieved didn’t leave a standing effect on the city. The fair ended, the magic disappeared, and gone was the White City that Chicago had so cherished.

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    1. Clarice, do you think once a positive reputation has been attained it can be easily lost? What about a negative reputation? How difficult is it to change a negative reputation to a positive one?

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  9. "The White City had drawn men and protected them; the Black City now welcomed them back, on the eve of winter, with filth, starvation, and violence"(323).

    The White City was a place of salvation for all of the men that went without work in Chicago before the 1893 World's Fair. The White City saved them from a life on the streets and constant threat of death. The White City represented hope for the men that worked at the fair. Although they knew that the fair wouldn't be permanent they were nowhere near prepared once it was closed. It protected them from a life of crime. The elegance of the fair overshadowed the darkness of the Black City that Chicago actually was. Even the most sumptuous aspects of the fair couldn't completely eclipse the gloomy, horrid conditions that Chicago still housed.

    The Black City is a better alias for Chicago after the fair. The meat packing plants took over as the moneymaker for Chicago. They were the darkest places in Chicago yet they were a crucial portion of the now "Black City". The downtrodden workers in the city had lived through and seen one of the most influential moments in American history. The change back to the Black City had caught many off guard. They had seen such beauty in the previous months but were now restricted the old Chicago. These people that could escape from everyday life at the fair now had to find something new to overshadow the grimy aspect of Chicago life.

    This quote represents Chicago in its entirety at this time. The fair had created a sense of pride for the citizens of Chicago. The city was given the nickname of "The White City", which is an important point. It was just a nickname that went away once the world's fair was over. The Black City took over once the elegance of the world's fair had gone through its cycle. What was once a place of hope had taken turn for the worst.

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    1. Nick, it seems that you and Carl Sandburg have personified Chicago--its dual image and overall effect on outsiders.

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  10. “The fair was so perfect, its grace and beauty like an assurance that for as long as it lasted nothing truly bad could happen to anyone, anywhere” (289)
    When reading this quote I felt that it explained the fair perfectly in the fact that it leaves out a great part of the truth. The fair was perfect, yet it was also imperfect at the same time. By this I mean that it helped the city a lot, it provided jobs, created beauty and attention for Chicago and helped shed a positive light on America as a whole. Yet it was imperfect because as all of this was going on Holmes was killing all of these innocent victims.
    I agree with Megan when she said that this quote was ironic about the fair. I agree that it’s ironic because it basically assumes that the fair is protecting the people there and yet all of those girls were being killed.
    I think this was the feel and thoughts of that time though. I think at this time, people just assumed the best in life, almost like they believed nothing bad could happen to them. So of course the fair wouldn’t allow the people there to be hurt, because no one believed they could be hurt. It was, in my opinion the greatest flaw of that time. And this quote captures it perfectly.

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    1. There is something innocent and endearing about this old-fashioned view! It's like when kids could run around the neighborhood after dark during the summer (my childhood). Today parents have to keep an eagle-eye on their children 24/7! Our freedoms have been restricted by an increased prevalence of evil in the world--evil that doesn't shy away from stealing the innocence of children.

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  11. This is weird. I chose the exact same quote as Austin, for the same reason. "The wheel may not have been unsafe, but it looked unsafe" (p. 280). Perception vs. reality is an age old debate. For example, when a parent tells a child "no" when the child wants to jump off a deck, the child is most likely upset. The child perceives jumping off a deck as super fun, and exciting, but the parent sees the reality of the child possibly breaking their neck. For the 1930's, a giant wheel with seats that took you up in the air and only had a bar for support, was scary. People perceived it as dangerous, reckless, and some probably thought it was outrageously stupid. But in reality, the wheel was probably pretty safe, especially by the standards they had in the thirties. The wheel is a parallel to Holmes. Holmes comes off as charming, and polite. People perceive him to be maybe a little off. Though they may suspect him for murder, they immediately denounce the notion because people always want to see the good in others. But in reality, Holmes killed a lot of women, and was a tricky and deceiving person. Basically my point here is that things are not always as they seem, and people are often to clouded by their perception, to see the reality of situations.

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  12. “The White City had drawn men and protected them; the Black City now welcomed them back, on the eve of winter, with filth, starvation, and violence” (323).
    This quote stood out to me because for one it is talking about how the fair is finally over and the men who helped contribute to the fair are finally being hit with the reality of life in Chicago. The first part of the quote is basically saying how honored the city was to have added jobs and helped the security to all of the people, but the second half is all about how all of it is over. When Holmes first was mentioned in the book, he was plotting to kill many innocent people. There were many people killed due to him. The word “violence” is demonstrating how much harm he had done to the people. The quote is almost contradicting. When it says that the men were given jobs and were protected, it is all wrong compared to the next half of the quote. The men and their families were in danger if they ever stepped foot in Holmes hotel. That was the reason why Holmes came to Chicago in the first place, to disguise the numerous victims killed. When the fair finally comes to end, Holmes flees the scene. I feel as though the city should not be referred to as the black city during this time because the fair did bring a lot of new inventions and joy to all of the citizens of Chicago. Because the novel reflects on two different people, the only way I could see Chicago being called the black city is only if in the eyes of Holmes’s. His heart is completely black and that could be a reason why the quote refers the city as a black one. I was surprised that the book is going to keep going even though the fair is over and Holmes has left Chicago. It is going to be interesting to see what is going to happen next now that they aren’t planning the fair anymore. Many times I have worked on a project for a very long time and then all of a sudden, one day you finish it and then you don’t know what to do with your time. I think that this is going to really impact all of the characters that helped contribute to the World Fair.

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  13. The quote listed above by both Nick Betts and Clarice is one of the truest statements in Part III. Nick captured the reality of the two-part city by elaborating the White City's elegance dominantly in his 1st non quoting paragraph and the Black City's horribleness dominantly in his 2nd. It wasn't until I read Clarice's response that I made the connection of the irony between Holmes and Chicago - which I fully agree with. Although, going off the Holmes connection, I developed a question: Why did the first public speculation about Holmes being a murderer come not from parents nor investigators but from the New York World?

    ""There are hundreds of people who went to see the Fair and were never heard from again,"..."The list of the 'missing' when the Fair closed was a long one, and in the greater number foul play suspected. Did these visitors to the Fair, strangers to Chicago, find their way to Holmes' Castle in answer to delusive advertisements sent out by him, never to return again? Did he erect his Castle close to the Fair grounds so as to gather in these victims by the wholesale...?"" (page 336)

    I understand that the police of the time were well occupied and could do little, but it still seems strange to me that the book is written so this speculation is presented this manner. Overall, the rest of the book was written so that chapters focused on either the architectural story or the Holmes story. However, the final chapter of Part III is written differently. The main focus of the chapter is the ending of the fair and it brings together the end of all the work Burnham and Olmsted spent the past three years working on, but it also introduces the speculation of Holmes as murderer - at least for people of the time.

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    1. You're right, Michael. Larsen takes readers to the heights of human accomplishment. And now that we have basked in that human greatness, we will explore the depths of human depravity (the ugly side we tend to keep hidden or fail to acknowledge).

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  14. “One of the most compelling, and chilling, exhibits was the Krupp Pavilion…’remarkably interesting’ ….’A fearful hideous thing....’…” (248)
    I think that this quote although obscure displays a very prevalent theme to the novel. This whole paragraph is set up in juxtaposition to talk about Krupp’s Pavilion. This represent s the novel so well is because in a lot of the statements about the fair it is always set in juxtaposition. With something excellent set along a not so good fact. This relates to both Holmes and the architectural aspects. I really like how that is set up in the book. Larson could have talked about all the greatness but by displaying the good and the bad he was able to reflect on the time period in which it was taking place. Economically and socially things were looking up for America but at the same time things were getting messy. And although Erik Larson wrote his novel in later years he was able to portray the feelings of the time. His juxtapositions set up his tone which in turn shows how much research he actually put into this novel. It is very impressive that he was able to do that and produce such a wonderful piece.

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    1. This is an excellent observation on the rhetoric front, Katie! Larsen's tone (effectively crafted through juxtaposition)echoes the theme of the duality of humanity.

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  15. "He praised the remarkable transformation of Jackson Park. "Look at it now!" he said. "These buildings, this hall, this dream of poets of centuries is the wild aspiration of crazy architects alone."" (328)

    I really liked this quote because it took a step back from they story and truly appreciated what was done with the completion of the fair. It shows how all the stresses of building the fair and the hard work put in paid off to make something great. I really like how he mentioned that it was a "remarkable transformation". The beginning of the book spends a lot of time describing how hard it will be to build in Jackson Park. But now, later in the story, the hard work has paid off and everyone can appreciate what a great job has been done. This really shows how motivation and hard work can do marvelous things. This quote makes me think back over all of the things that would have to go right for the fair to succeed. The main problem overcame was the lack of time. Time was a huge problem throughout the building of the fair but that didn't stop the architects and all workers from doing there best.

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  16. "It was a most beautiful sight one obtains in the descent of the car, for then the whole fair grounds is laid before you," Gronau said, "The view is so grand that all timidity left me and my watch on the movement of the car was abandoned." (pg. 270)

    There is a lot of quotes that other people used that is about the wheel but this is one of my favorites. It made me think about my first time in a Ferris wheel. I was first scared to go on one because of how high it was and how it moved around, but once I saw the view, it was magnificent. Of what I've read so far, the book really plays with the theme of accomplishment when hard work is put into play. With both stories, there are lots of accomplishments that Burnham and Holmes have made. It's sick how much Holmes kills, but he put a lot of work in what he does. Who builds a hotel just for the sake of killing people? Burnham's accomplishments shines when he finishes the fair. With the Ferris wheel built, it make up for all the bad things that happened before it was built. It brings prosperity back to Chicago.

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  17. "As the crowd thundered, a man eased up beside a thin, pale woman with a bent neck. In the next instant Jane Addams realized her purse was gone. The great fair had begun."(239)
    This quote actually made me roll my eyes. At this point, I was kind of in the mind set of, "Are you kidding me?" from all the drama with the actual building of the fair. Even after all the issues, whether it was walls falling down or too much rain, the city still wasn't perfect. People were still going to steal from others. This quote could also be one of two other things. Perhaps both in reality.
    First off, the quote could be a reference to Holmes being a constant undertone of fear and death to the overall sense of success and hope that the fair brings. While all the happenings with the White City are going on, Holmes is going to town on the civilians. The city is Jane Addams while Holmes is the purse snatcher.
    The second thing this quote can be considered is a foreshadowing of the future of the city. Though I am not finished with the book, I understand that the fair ends...less than desirably. The stealing of the purse could indicate the immediate decline of success the city will encounter from here on in.

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    1. So it seems as though my computer formatting went to a place I didn't intend for it to go...so looks like I wanted my entry to appear as a poem. Surprise!

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  18. I've noticed that a lot of people had the same quote that I picked out as well, but here is my take on it:

    "The White City had drawn men and protected them; the Black City now welcomed them back, on the eve of winter, with filth, starvation, and violence." P323

    I really liked this quote a lot. It brings together both the time of the fair and the time afterwards. It captures how they are polar opposites. During the fair Chicago is this magical white city. A place where dreams come true, where there is beautiful landscape, and where there are remarkable architectural feats. The fair was the place where people gathered for fun, and awe. It employed thousands and thousands of people, and brought thousands and thousands of people into the city. After the fair was completed, Chicago allowed people back into the city, but not with the open arms and awe it had before. Just as it says, “…with filth, starvation, and violence”. Thousands were left unemployed, the majority of the population lived on or below the poverty line. There was filth in the streets, and there were people dying of starvation. Chicago flipped from paradise, to a terrible place to live.

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  19. “That night the exposition illuminated the fairgrounds one last time. 'Beneath the stars the lake lay dark and sombre,' Stead wrote, 'but on its shores gleamed and glowed in golden radiance the ivory city, beautiful as a poet's dream, silent as a city of the dead.'” (333)

    In the last section, this quote stood out the most to me. I just liked the image of the White City glowing one last night, as Stead describes. It seems peaceful in a disheartening way. His analogy of the city being a poet's dream is really clever and a good way of summing up the lure of the fair as a whole. The exposition really was a poet's dream – a splendorous idealized world where everything existed in some sort of state that transcended expectations entirely and produced something that before only poets could capture. I also think this description is accurate of Chicago as a whole. Chicago is too as “beautiful as a poet's dream”. It is a city drowned in new architectural styles and glittering like an magnificent light bulb. Chicago embodies the poet’s dream by its sheer immensity, and way the city functions and people flow within it like some sort of machine that could only be conceived by a poet. The fair was described as dead silent as well, and the same could be said about Chicago. It’s not actual silence we're talking about, as Chicago would undoubtedly be quite noisy, but a silence of another kind: the stifling of human spirit. Chicago crushed many, whether it was done by the hands of murderers such as H H Holmes, the conditions in the Union Stock Yards, or the suppressive employers workers across the city faced. The people of Chicago lay silent. They tried to speak, scream even, but they couldn't be heard, because Chicago was chock full of the dead – the voiceless. The fair too was a city of the dead on its last night of illumination. People were given a glimpse of the cutting edge of the world and what it really had to offer now lay dead and silent as they grappled with the monotony and everyday life they must return to now that the fair is forever gone.

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    1. Chris, I love your observation regarding the silence--"the stifling of human spirit". Yes! I felt that as I was reading but couldn't put it into words. Thank you for doing that for me.

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  20. “Belatedly, Burnham had gotten his wish. ‘There was no regret,’ observed the Chicago Tribute, ‘rather a feeling of pleasure that the elements and not the wrecker should wipe out the spectacle of the Columbian season.” (pg. 336, in response to the fire that destroyed the White City)
    It seems that Devil in the White City, through use of dual plot lines, is able to constantly bring up mannerisms of mankind: Alyssa talked about the fact that individuals “rely on the media to let us know what’s going on in the world”; Eleni said that people “have the tendency to try too hard”; Najeeha noted the fact that “humans have a way of never letting themselves be fully satisfied”; and Christine brought up the “age old debate” of perception vs. reality. The idea captured in the excerpt I’ve chosen is of the sentimentality of the human race.
    These lines were not the most eloquent wording of the thought I wished to express, but I wasn’t about to flip through an entire section in the off-chance I’d find a passage with more poetic wording. As these lines brought a chapter to its close, they will do just fine.
    Personally, I am a very sentimental person. My closet is stuffed full of stuffed animals I could never get rid of for fear of hurt feelings (on the part of the animals). Taped to a wall in the living room of my house is a (creepy) picture of an eye I must have drawn at least five years ago. I can understand the pride the architects must have felt in the fair, and their reluctance to immediately destroy their creation.
    I can also sympathize with their wanting the fair to be destroyed quickly and magnificently. When one creates something so outstanding, one wants it to be around forever and continue in its glory. As everything in our physical world eventually decays, even the most majestic things cannot continue, and the next most honorable fate is a grand destruction. This is why a fire would have been an accepted, and perhaps welcome, end to the fair.
    Regret has been tabooed by society, and as a sure way to avoid it, we have built up the “fitting end”. The fall of the White City by “the elements” was Burnham’s excuse for a lack of regret. I can only hope The Devil comes to such a fulfilling conclusion.

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  22. “The fair was so perfect, its grace and beauty like an assurance that for as long as it lasted nothing truly bad could happen to anyone, anywhere.”
    When I read this quote it immediately struck me as incredibly ironic. The reason why is obvious- at the same time as the fair, in the very same city as the fair, there is a murderer taking the lives of women daily. Not after it, not before it, not a thousand miles away, but during and at the fair. This quote pretty much contradicts the entire book, and I think thats why it stood out so much.
    I think this quote also brings to attention yet again just how easy it was to get lost in the beauty of the fair. At the time people were mesmerized. The fair was so incredible, so intriguing; the White City truly blinded people. They were blind to the fact that anything bad could happen, for example murders...This is what made is so insanely easy for H.H. Holmes to commit the crimes he did. I think this quote is meant to help the reader to understand the fair from a spectators point of view. All the while we as readers have been reading both halves of the story but as a spectator of the fair, only the beautiful side would be revealed so the author used this quote to display the oblivion of everyone at the fair.
    This quote also foreshadows H.H. Holmes’s plot. In the following chapters, he kills Minnie’s sister Anna, only strengthening the contrast between the beauty of the fair and the evil hiding in it. The quote basically captures the the essence of the fair at this point in history- a beautiful experience that ensured people of eternal safeness, but one that made people oblivious to the dangers that are ever present as a result.

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  23. One of the most intriguing and significant quotes that I came upon while reading section three was, “At the fair’s turnstiles even Holmes could not escape paying cash.” This quote captured my attention mainly as it was not only a connection of the two plots that have been playing out throughout the novel but an actual direct interaction between Holmes and the World’s Fair. After reflecting upon this quote for a while, I came to the conclusion that it can be interpreted as symbolic to Holmes schemes taking place around and during the time of the fair. Prior to the beginning of the fair, Holmes had begun both his financial and maniacal endeavors by preying upon the attention and success caused by the fair. He took advantage of the current state of both the legal and financial system, as well as the trust of visitors in order to experience his own personal gain both financially and emotionally. He began to become wealthy as he spawned many business ventures almost exclusively on credit and he never paid his debts, thus accumulating wealth.
    Holmes’s wealth prior to the opening of the fair is an inverse of the fair’s many problems and expenses that accumulated prior to Opening Day. As time goes on and the fair begins to become successful, however, people begin to question, investigate, and seek debts from Holmes. When Holmes ends up visiting the fair and having to pay up at the turnstile it is symbolic of the fact that his time of success and dodging expenses and trouble is coming to an end. The fair, at the same time, is almost being handed Holmes’s success as it continues to grow and prosper.
    Towards the end of the fair Holmes is almost ruined. Hired private detectives are investigating him, he is faced with calls from families of victims, and the creditors are beginning to hire lawyers to get their payments from Holmes. Eventually Holmes is tricked into a meeting with all of these creditors, where he would have been arrested if he had not bolted. Holmes is then forced to abandon his Chicago belongings and head for Texas. All the while the fair is gaining popularity and eventually overcomes its debt, which completes the exchange of success between Holmes and the World’s Fair.

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    1. Excellent observations, Kyle--the symbolism of Holmes' inability to escape paying for the things he's done--on earth and hopefully in the hereafter as well.

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  24. “The fair had begun with death, and now it had ended with death.” This quote is found on page 332 in Devil in the White City, and it not only represents the context of the fair, it also represents the cyclical nature of human affairs. Throughout the entire process of constructing the White City, numerous tragedies were endured. From budget issues to labor problems to construction affairs, the building of the World’s Fair was plagued from Day 1 with misfortune and adversity, but nothing came close to the death of John Root and the despair that he left Burnham in. The brutal removal of Root from the architecture that defined the fair was a cruel blow by fate, and it was one that Burnham was unsure that he could recover from. Yet the story progressed, and life went on in Chicago, in both cities White and Black. The fair was eventually completed, although it was by the skin of its teeth, and a magnificent new innovation, the Ferris Wheel, seemed to rise above all else (both literally and figuratively) in comparison. Now, the fair seemed to be destined for nothing less than outstanding success, and with a fair chance at world-renowned glory. Yet the World’s fair could not quite shake its malady, and the disease struck again in the form of the worsening economy. Still, the fair went on, and it eventually shattered Paris’s record for attendance, as well as many others. Then, just as the closing ceremony is nearing, Death pays another significant visit, claiming the life of Mayor Harrison. The fair is shattered in the face of such an immeasurable tragedy. Yet in reality, Chicago was the perfect breeding ground for such an occurrence. It was a city in which people would go missing every day, never to be found again. The fair just made it worse. The White City was only an attempt to hide the Black City, and in the end, the dream was pierced by reality, for it was not just at the beginning and the end that Death took his claim. As told in the story, the serial killer H.H. Holmes lurked within his murder mansion, determined to strike down as many women as possible. In this manner, death was intertwined between the white pillars of the dream that was the World’s Fair, inescapable, just as the White City could never truly escape the Black City. In conclusion, I end with a quote offered by many other posters before me that represents the dual nature of the monochromatic cities: “The White City had drawn men and protected them; the Black City now welcomed them back, on the eve of winter, with filth, starvation, and violence.”

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  25. “Why should the wealth of the county be stored in banks and elevators while the idle workman wanders homeless about the streets and the idle loafers who hoard the gold only to spend it in riotous living are rolling about in fine carriages from which they look out on peaceful meetings and call them riots?” (pg. 315 spoken by Samuel Gompers)

    When reading this quote, it reminded me of The Great Gatsby in that most of the characters such as Tom, Daisy, and Jordan represented the “idle loafers who hoard gold” and were unaware of the majority of people who were “homeless about the streets” and in poverty. This quote also connected the two sides of Chicago: The White City during the fair and the Black City after. During the fair, the city was alive with lights and festivities such as the opening of the Ferris Wheel, but once the fair closed, Chicago’s “true colors” started to show. The tens of thousands of laborers working in Chicago were now without a job and people realized how easy it was for people to “disappear”. The once extravagant city during fair turned back into a city filled with filth, violence, and poverty. The change of Chicago during and after the fair really revealed how the wealth of the city was being hoarded with the rich while thousands are now homeless and without jobs again. This quote showed the gap between the rich and poor and how almost nothing was being done about it. Later in the chapter, the quote Gompers gave was “dangerous talk, to be suppressed at all costs.” This showed how the wealthy and powerful people in Chicago were taking measures to hide this information from the public so that the thousands of unemployed cause a rebellion.

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  26. "The White City had drawn men and protected them; the Black City now welcomed them back, on the eve of winter, with filth, starvation, and violence." (323)

    Now I realize this quote was use already, but that's ok. I like a challenge. The general tone of this quote is one of general depression and perhaps even failure. I don't usually like being pessimistic but it's hard to be positive in this situation. Burnham had set out to create an expostion that would stun the world and propel Chicago into the limelight. Even though the fair might have been considered a huge success and drew people from all over the world, the city of Chicago is still the cold and corrupted place it was originally known for. However, there is a brighter side to be observed. While Chicago was a harsh city, the White City showed people all over the world the hidden beauty that could be brought forth. And all of this recognition helped the city flourish into one of the most famous an influential cities the world has to offer.

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  27. "Chance encounters led to magic...Forever afterward, whenever Hall told this story of how he met Helen Keller, tears would fill his eyes." (285)

    In this quote, it showed an example of just what kind of "magic" happened at the fair exactly. It stuck out to me because it reminded me of earlier in the book when Olmsted reminded Burnham about fairs being magical. This is one of the magic moments that the fair made happen. So many important and unknown people came to the World's Fair to see what Chicago had done, but what they walked away with were most likely magical memories that you can never forget. Just the impact of the fair alone was enough to impress people. But combined with precious moments like these; it's really something what Burnham and the other architects pulled off with what little time they had. This whole example right here, Helen Keller meeting the inventor of her precious typewriter, is something special indeed. Just because the other side of the story is evil, does not mean that it was able to ruin the fair's spectacular aura that made all these "magical" encounters happen.

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    1. Thanks,Liz, for making this point. The coincidences of life do tend to be stranger than fiction. And it's a universal observation that the co-existence of good and evil and the ultimate triumph of good over evil are the "stuff" good storytelling is made of.

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  28. "Holmes was such a charming man. And now that Anna knew him, she saw that he really was quite handsome. When his marvelous blue eyes caught hers, they seemed to warm her entire body. Minnie had done well indeed." (292)

    It makes me sick how easily Holmes deceives his victims with his charms and good looks. Larson constantly stresses this point about human nature; if something looks good to us, we assume that all is well. This is a frightening point, because often felt drawn to beautiful people myself, and though logic tells us that beauty says very little about a person, logic flies out the window when an attractive person is within view. Annie had a lot of preconceptions about Holmes before she met him, but after she is captivated by his beauty, she completely forgets her suspicions. I'm sure that if he looked like an average Joe, she would have reserved more caution. Larson highlights the same principle by emphasizing how Holmes hides his sinister operation behind the guise of the World's Fair. In addition, though the appearance of the fair had little to do with the events that would bring in the most people people, the appearance of the fair was the most emphasized aspect of the venture during construction, showing again how appearances are used to manipulate us.

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  29. The quote I chose was from page 280 it reads, "The wheel may not have been unsafe, but it looked unsafe."Not only did I relate this to real life, and judging a book by its cover but I also related it to Holmes. People think of him as such a great man who is good to everyone, when in reality he's the villan. He can do what ever he likes because hes hidden behind his lies. Holmes makes everyone feel like they can trust him, just like the ferris wheel looks unsafe. But in reality hes the bad guy and the wheel is safe. I can also relate this to real life, people always judge others by the first impression when in reality that's not at all who they really are. This quote reminds us not to judge a book by its cover and to remember that everything is not what it seems.

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  30. "The skies cleared and stayed clear." pg. 251.

    Many of my classmates have written about the horrors of Chicago during the time of the fair, and while they are real, I think this quote is more telling of the third part of the novel. Despite Holmes's murders and his hasty flee from the city, and despite the still incomplete fairgrounds, fires, and the wind Chicago is famous for, the fair still went off and attracted a record number of visitors. Minnie and Anna Williams still experienced joy during their time with Holmes. They went to the fair and had hopes for a better life in Europe. Even though this hope was a false hope and their fates were doomed from the moment Minnie met Holmes, it was still joy. This quote is also very true of life as a whole. I'm a firm believer in the quote, "Everything is okay in the end. If it's not okay, then it's not the end." Orphan Annie told the truth when she sang about the sun coming out tomorrow. There is always hope for a better day and joy found in any situation, even the most dismal of them, is still joy.

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  31. "He liked being near enough to hear the approach of death in the rising panic of his victims. This was when his quest for possession entered its most satisfying phase (256-257)."
    No one enjoys having his or her hand forced, so when Holmes could no longer murder in the way he most preferred, via the use of his artfully crafted, semi-soundproofed vault, he was brought far less pleasure, causing him to become restless. Thus, he proceeded to kill far more rapidly than in the past. This is a major turning point for Holmes, as he is forced to change his entire process, a horrible loss on his part.
    This quote stuck out to me not only for its cruel brutality but also because it is something that most people can relate to, if only in a lesser form. Everyone has something that makes them happy, whether it is listening to music, hanging out with friends, or killing others. Everyone has something; everyone except for Holmes. He had something, but it was taken away from him, even after he had adapted to suit the new circumstances. He was happy and that was taken away from him.
    Though that isn't right, it happened and continues to happen. People decide that if they don't like what makes another happy, then they get to take that thing away from the other person, like they took killing away from Dr. H. H. Holmes. Yet people have the audacity to claim that HE was the "evil" one.
    People always try to understand why a killer kills. Well, it’s the same as anyone else trying to be happy. They do what they have to do, just like everyone else. Where is the wrong in that?

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    1. Kelly, it enters the realm of "wrong" when what makes one person "happy" negatively impacts the well-being/life of others. One of the universally accepted social codes of conduct is that of seeing murder (other than self-defense or protecting your family & property) as wrong or unacceptable. I think we must identify behaviors such as Holmes' as stemming from a mental disorder. He wasn't just a misunderstood artist. I might even venture to say he was evil (he himself would identify with Satan). Happiness is certainly not a guarantee, and finding happiness in the downfall of others is a travesty...and I would extend that to Holmes as well. While I believe he needed to be apprehended and punished for his crimes, I do not celebrate (or find happiness in ) his demise/downfall.

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  32. “It was a difficult ride for him. He had passed this way before, to bury John Root. The fair had begun with death, and now it had ended with death.” (332)

    My initial reaction for this statement was irony. It states that death surrounded the opening and closing of the World’s fair, when in fact death was inside of it. They call the Fair ‘a poets dream’ or ‘heavenly’ or most of all the ‘White City’. They call it the White City not only because of the colors of the buildings but because there is a sense about the fair that is good and pure. However, what people should have been calling the fair all along is death. Dr. H. H. Holmes used the fair as a tool to lure in his victims. That’s why I found these few sentences so ironic is because if Burnham would have known the true numbers of deaths that fair had produced that ride for him would have meant more to him then the death of his major, it would have been known to him as the death of his career.

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  33. "The fair had begun with death, and now it had ended with death." pg. 332

    I Completely agree with what Morgan has said above. The fair is supposed to be this great pure good thing for the city of Chicago but it really was sort of a failing in the beginning. Besides the opening day of the fair, the first couple of months were a complete failure. With the economy plummeting and the lack of visitors, Burnham was on full alert to try to attract more visitors so he would not be the root cause of failure. So in a sense the beginning could be considered a death figuratively, but the end is definitely taken as literally. At the end of the fair Mayor Harrison is murdered and the end ceremony is turned into his funeral. But one thing that Burnham doesn't know is that Holmes has been killing this whole time so really the entire fair has been filled with death. It is kind of ironic that Chicago is called the "White City."

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  34. "Brother Harry seemd delighted with Anna and invited her to stay for the summer. Flattered, she wrote home to request that her big trunk be shipped to the Wrightwood address. Clearly she hoped something like this would happen, for she had packed the trunk already." (268)

    I chose this quote because I find Holmes to be very interesting and I found this to be ironic. After reading this passage the reader knows what is going to happen to her because Holmes has done the same thing to many other women. This sounds bad, but it's kind of funny how excited she is and how she "hoped something like this would happen" because as a reader you know what will happen to her. Holmes doesn't keep any one person around very long so when Anna said Holmes, aka Harry, invited her for the summer, one can infer that her summer is going to be cut short, or one can say it will "suffocate" her. Anna pretty much helped Holmes out because she was so eager and so intrigued by his warmth and kindness that she did not get the chance to see the real him. It's also hard to believe that Holmes has gotten away with so many murders without being caught that now when a new woman enters the reading one can almost assume that her future won't look too bright. Anna just happened to be another victim eating right out of Holmes's hand.

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  35. "There's just one more think I'd like to know," his questioner said, "and I'll not trouble ye anymore." "Well, what is it?" "I'd like to know how you lost your legs." The amputee said he would answer only on strict condition that this was indeed the last question. He would allow no others. Was that clear? His persecutor agreed. The amputee, fully aware that his answer would raise an immediate corollary question, said, "They were bit off." "Bit off. How-" But a deal was a deal. Chuckling, the amputee hobbled away.
    This quote made me laugh because of the simple cleverness of it. The amputee after being questioned and questioned was starting to lose his temper and found a great way to get payback for being pestered. He answered the mans question with a response that would prompt another question that would agitate the persecutor very much. This man seemed to take handle his disability very well, and was even able to use it as a source of amusement. Even in his rough situation he still keeps a positive attitude. I thought this guy was great.

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  36. "As the wheel began to turn, loose nuts and bolts and a couple of wrenches rained from its hubs and spokes. The wheel had consumed 28,416 pounds of bolts in its assembly; someone was bound to forget something." (pg 260)

    This is of a more personal significance than it is story-wise. I have a personal affinity for large, complex structures. Whenever I see something in a movie, like the Death Star in Star Wars or the giant mech in the upcoming Pacific Rim, I immediately contemplate how difficult it must have been to design, plan, and construct such a thing. I mean, the Death Star is the size of a small moon. The sheer amount of metal it must have taken is astounding; they would have had to strip mine entire planets to get that much raw materia. Planning, testing, and construction would have taken decades by our standards. Of course, we're supposed to suspend our disbelief for the sake of laser sword-fights I suppose.
    My point is that this quote make me realize just how much of a massive undertaking the Ferris Wheel was. 28,416 bolts is a lot. 28,146 POUNDS of bolts is a number I have trouble wrapping my head around. Each of those bolts was made and needed to be put somewhere on the wheel. Mr. Ferris had to calculate where it would be and what it would support and how much weight it would have to bear and a medley of other numerous factors. The complexity of it all makes my head spin. In a good way, like I'd just went on that ride at the fair that spins you around really fast.
    Or maybe a Ferris Wheel.

    (I don't even like Ferris Wheels that much.)

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    1. Grant, thanks for appreciating the significance of this detail in the text. It's a microcosmic picture of the immensity of the World Fair undertaking. It also helps me to be grateful for those people who are gifted with certain vision and abilities--people whose life works help propel technology, industry, ethics, architecture, science, etc. to a place where the rest of us can reap the benefits.

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  37. "A woman disrobing in public, a man with a skirt over his head-- the marvels of the fair seemed endless." (p 288)

    Hah, I chose this quote because this is the one part of the Burnham plot that didn't put me to sleep. I could just see it as a YouTube viral video, "Crazy Ferris Wheel man gets woman's skirt put over head" lolz. Anyways, the second part of this quote "the marvels of the fair seemed endless" proves itself true throughout the book. The World's Fair was an event of enticing adventure to all who attended. All the attractions at the fair grasped the interest of the attendees with new concepts such as; a fully electric kitchen, Juicy Fruit gum, and of course, the Ferris Wheel. Not only were the new ideas at the fair marvels, but the people as well. Princess Eulalia of Spain's attendance marveled me in that she was treated like nothing but royalty and in the end reject her royal feast in exchange for beer, sausage, and sauerkraut. And then we have the disappearance of many people at the fair *cough* women specifically *cough* Dr. Holmes *cough* whether it was intentional or foul play was involved. I liked what Jiwei mentioned about the 200,000 light bulbs all lit up at once, and how he described it as "mind-numbing". I definitely think that was another 'marvel' that the people were able to experience at the fair. I also really liked the quote Liz used about the magic that happened at the fair. The World's Fair was truly a place of 'endless' possibilities. The fair itself was undoubtedly a marvel. It accentuated the wondrous enchantment of "White City" while masking the ominous, murderous mysteries of the "Black City".

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  38. "The fair was so perfect, its grace and beauty like an assurance that for as long as it lasted nothing truly bad could happen to anyone, anywhere."

    I liked this quote because it showed how astonishing the fair really was, making everyone that came to it forget about everything else because it was so magnificent. It became a unifying factor, bringing people together from all over the world with its beauty and making everyone happy. It shows that it truly was an amazing thing and all of the hard work put into it by the architects paid off.

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  39. Page 292. "Holmes was such a charming man. And now that Anna knew him, she saw that he was really quite handsome. When his marvelous blue eyes caught hers, they seemed to warm her entire body. Minnie had done well indeed." Like seriously people open your eyes. I picked this quote because it just makes you think about how things are so much different from then and now. Back then a serial killer was almost like a new concept to them. With all these different aliases one would believe that he would not get caught. But with all these people encountering him, well I should say women that meet him all disappear. In todays world I think that would start to become a little suspicious and we would have been caught. back then the police were too worried about other things and none of this activity seemed too strange. I guess I just feel that some of the deaths could have been prevented and I believe that in our world today he would have been found out even though he is like a criminal mastermind. This quotes shows that as time passes people maybe more... Knowledgable about things. Our society then and now has changed a lot.

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  40. "Anthony stood and returned the bow and- "as enthusiastic as a girl," a friend said- waved her handkerchief at Cody. The significance of the moment escaped no one. Here was one of the greatest heroes of America's past saluting one of the foremost heroes of its future. The encounter brought the audience to its feet in a thunder of applause and cheers. The frontier may have indeed have closed at last, as Fredrick Jackson Turner proclaimed in his history-making speech at the fair, but for that moment it stood there glittering in the sun like the track of a spent tear." - page 286
    I thought this passage, starting from Anthony's flippant response to the clergyman up to part I quoted particularly touching - not that Holmes's homicidal episodes really try to be touching. The moment seemed so perfectly timed and resulted in a symbolic exchange that seldom happens in unscripted meetings. To be honest, I initially thought Larson may have had a creative outburst at the moment and tried doing my own research on their discussion. I thought it was particularly interesting what each party represented; Cody belonged to one of the many "boys only" clubs, and Susan was - obviously- a suffragette. I felt the exchange between the two not only represented the final farewell to the wild west for a more liberal republic, but also the farewell to the archaic values the cowboys represented in favour for the egalitarian ideals of first-wave feminism. The past's fearless embrace of the future's prospects was a much needed breather from the typically heavy themes of death and evil.

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  41. "The fair had begun with death, and now it had ended with death." pg. 332

    This quote really stuck with me, because it not only has to do with the murderer Holmes, but also with the law-abiding Burnham. Clearly, the quote reflects on Holmes because he used the fair as his own way to attract victims to their demise, so in a way yes the fair did begin with death and as the fair began to draw towards its end Holmes continued to kill until he was eventually forced to flee the area as he was now the focus of much investigation and scrutiny. But like I said the quote also has to do with Burnham's story. figuatively speaking, the fair did begin with death because in it's opening days besides the very first one it was not living up to the expectaitons. And during the construction of the fair deaths among workers weren't that uncommon, so again in a way the fair began with death. It also ended with death as we saw when Pendergast assassinated Mayor Harrison, because he according to Pendergast didn't live up to his word. The fair ended with a funeral/ceremony dedicated to the mayor so that is why it ended in death. The fair mtaphorially died when after its closing many portions were illegally set ablaze and burned down. Such an achievement, lost due to man's inability to coexist such as the relationship between the rich and the poor which plagued the economy during these hard times.

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  42. "No one told Burnham about the fire, no one told him of the cancellations, and no one told him of Murphy's forecast."

    A very common theme in this book is secret keeping. In some cases, such as the one mentioned in the quote above, the secrets are kept for the best. In other cases, mainly regarding Holmes, the secrets that are being kept are deadly . In regards to the progress of the fair, some of the details of the constructions or failures of the buildings were kept from Burnham and occasionally other workers. The details were kept secret because they could be dealt with without adding stress to anyone but those who were directly involved. None of these secrets ended up leading to a disaster. Unfortunately, the secrets being kept around the murder castle were quite disastrous. Holmes managed to conceal virtually everything within the walls of his hotel. The murders and disappearances and other illegal actions nearly escaped the city when Holmes did. This line of the story intrigued me because it seemed to have a deeper meaning than what it literally stated, concerning both plots.

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  43. "Soon, however, the passangers became silent. The novelty of the sensation wore off, and the power of the experience became apperent." (270)
    I chose this quote because in this short couple of sentences it describes almost all reactions to the first Ferris Wheel. It's important to get these emotions and reactions becasue the wheel was such huge part of the fair. The wheel was the thing that was going to out do the Eiffel Tower and that was quite a feat. This wheel was almost like Americas pride and joy all in one 20 minute spin.The first reaction to this would have been shock, quickly followed by excitment. There would have been a roar of cheering from the riders and the crowd. Then the complete awe you would have felt would have been enough to shut anyone up and thats exactly how this quote descibes the sensation. All in all I just feel this is important because the wheel was a huge deal to beging with evern when it was just an idea, but Ferris made it come to life and thats huge.

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  44. "Holmes was warm and charming and talkative and touched them with familiarity that, while perhaps offensive back home, somehow seemed all right in this new world of Chicago-just another aspect of the great adventure on which these women had embarked. And what good was an adventure if it did not feel a little dangerous?" Page 245

    I found this quote very intriguing, as well as a good general statement that gives a lot of good insight to the time period. At first I had to really stop and think about if the worth of an adventure is really measured by the risks you are taking, but in the end I agreed- it's not an adventure if you aren't getting out if your comfort zone! Everything about the World's Fair seemed to be dangerous and mysterious. Women were leaving for Chicago on their own, independent for the first time. New inventions were being crafted and people were trying new things. The people were being brave and enjoying themselves. If the fair had been straightforward and not as mysterious, would it have been as popular? Humans are natural risk takers, we thrive off of adrenaline and the unknown-without it life would be dull. I think this quote is a good reminder that some of the best experiences come from taking a risk, or doing something you've never tried before. I also found it interesting how true the quote remains today. People everywhere in our society do dangerous, reckless things just for adventure of it. Danger is a necessity for life to remain interesting-it's what makes life an adventure.

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  46. ""For many visitors these nightly illuminations were their first encounter with electricity. Hilda Satt, a girl newly arrived from Poland, went to the fair with her father. “As the light was fading in the sky, millions of lights were suddenly flashed on, all at one time,” she recalled, years later. “Having seen nothing but kerosene lamps for illumination, this was like getting a sudden vision of Heaven."

    I can't imagine what it would feel like to see electricity for the first time. I know I don't appreciate light bulbs nearly as much as anyone who attended the fair, because I have always had them. As I've been reading the novel, I've noticed so many things that seem commonplace now, were brand new at the fair. The first time I read about the worlds fair, I thought it was very lackluster. I didn't realize that all of these things were new at the time. It must be a very joyous experience, to go from a small town without electricity, to a place with buildings going towards the sky, the first ferris wheel, cracker jacks, and then light bulbs lighting the night in such a way never seen before. I hope that I get to witness new inventions as awe-inspiring in my life time."

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  47. "Too many features of the fair remained unfinished, Burnham acknowledged. He and his brigade of architects, draftsmen, engineers, and contractors had accomplished so much in an impossibly short time, but apparently not enough to overcome the damping effect of the fast-degrading economy." (Page 240)

    This quote brings up a subject that I questioned a lot while reading. The fair had a set opening day; how was everything not completely finished by then? I mean I completely understand that it was a huge feat and even what they did accomplish was amazing, but I don't get how they can open an unfinished fair. And when the attendance levels drop, it's no wonder. The ever-falling economy certainly doesn't help matters, but I know I wouldn't want to spend money at a fair that wasn't completely finished. I feel sympathy for these men that worked so hard on the fair and continue to do so; I feel the most for Olmstead. He's a tired, old man and has a lot pressing on him. I can feel the panic Olmstead feels about his landscape, because he can't start his work until the construction is mostly done, and that kept being delayed, so his landscape did, too. And the landscape was under his name, so people would think bad of him seeing the half finished and gaudy scenery, but it really isn't his fault because he had virtually no time. I guess I don't have much experience with the business/architechtual/construction field, but it still makes little sense to open such a grandeure in American history that is unfinished. It just astounds me.

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  49. "Night, is the magician of the fair." (255) "Chicago has disappointed her enemies and astonished the world." (310)
    These quotes, along with many others, show how truly dream-like and "magical" the Chicago world's fair actually was. The night life was especially extravagant with special shows and attractions that citizens would never be able to see otherwise. As for the quote on page 310, Chicago really did astonish the whole world. The fair pulled through to show New York who was really boss while proving to the world that Chicago could create a fair so well put together that it would grand slam the Paris fair attendance record out of the part by at least 300,000 visitors for one day, Chicago day. At one point in the novel, it is stated that this is not just some county fair, it is a NATIONAL one and everyone should take part in supporting the event as a whole. As the economy spiraled downward and unemployment rates increased, I believe the fair became somewhat of a symbol for a better tomorrow as well as proof that Americans could band together to build something great. Here we see that people came from literally all over to experience the dream of the White City in reality, hoards of travelers came to the fair to ride the Ferris wheel, tour the exhibition halls, and , let's face it, even to see Buffalo Bill's Show. Sooner than later however, the fair would have to close, on October 30, in an ending of sadness for the loss of the fair, and Chicago's mayor of the time.
    In the quotes I see the bigger picture, which I believe is the magic of the fair, the dream that came the reality, here everyone could enjoy luxuries and travel the world all in a park in Chicago. The magic is the biggest piece, it is the illusion that a person could enjoy the fair in the almost impossible amazement that dazed visitors for the duration of their stay.

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  50. "There are hundreds of people who went to Chicago to see the fair and were never heard from again,' said the New York World. "The list of the "Missing" when the fair closed was a long one, and in the greater number foul play suspected."

    This Basically sums up Chicago at the time of the World's fair. Crime ridden and filthy. That is why Burnham pushed so hard to make the fair as magnificent as it was and to create the idea of "The White City", because the actual city of Chicago was the black city. This quote sums up both halves of the plot line in this book. Not only does it capture the fair, but it also captures the essence of Holmes, who's entire existence at this time was based on kidnapping and killing women from the fair.

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  51. from Paige A...
    "Frank Haven Hall, superintendent of the Illinois Institution for the Education of the Blind, unveiled a new device that made plates for printing books in Braille. Previously Hall had invented a machine capable of typing in Braille, the Hall Braille Writer, which he never patented because he felt profit should not sully the cause of serving the blind. AS he stood by his newest machine, a blind girl and her escort approached him. Upon learning that Hall was the man who had invented the typerwriter she used so often, the girl put her arms around his neck and gave him a huge hug and kiss.
    Forever afterward, whenever Hall told this story of how he met Helen Keller, tears would fill his eyes"

    This was one of my favorite passages in the novel. Just as Gincie and LuAnna alluded to, this moment was one filled with another endless marvel of the fair and was also a moment of greater historical significance than our main storylines like the Susan B. Anthony and Colonel Cody was. Larson incorporates many of these moments into this story. I remember earlier in the novel when he name-dropped Walt Disney; I was completely astounded at all the history that the fair had been able to bring together. It makes not only all of the historical figures more realistic, but also brings the White City to life as well. The fair seemed so far out of touch for most of the novel, but by connecting historical figures that readers can recognize and relate to, the fair at last seems to be a real entity. It's hard to imagine the fair to its full magnitude and I appreciate Larson's efforts to connect with the reader. The reading can get a bit dull sometimes with all of the details, but little moments like these really bring the novel and the vision alive.

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  52. Nick Reinert's posting...
    "Unwise to open wheel to the public until opening day because of incompletness and danger of accidents". The workers at the fair wanted to make sure that everyone was as safe as possible. This meant that they had to put of the most popular thing so they could make sure everyone was safe. If I was in charge I would have done the same thing because safety is the first and most important thing

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  53. "'I was born with the devil in me,'" he wrote. "I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than the poet can help the inspiration to sing." (pg. 109)

    I choose this quote because I found it very powerful and thought provoking. People never question others’ motives when they have a positive outcome. And it seems that the human nature is unable to comprehend the actions of a murderer. This quote takes us into the mind of a murderer, H.H. Holmes, and how it works, much like how a poet was born to be artistic. It makes you ponder if people are born to be the things they become, or if its all in the brains ability to function. I believe that Holmes was crazy; that anyone can become what they wish, and some people wish to be evil. It is nothing you are born with, in my opinion. I think that a person can do what they want, regardless of the circumstances, or what they were born with.

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  54. “It was so easy to disappear, so easy to deny knowledge, so very easy in the smoke and din to mask that something dark had taken root. This was Chicago, on the eve of the greatest fair in history.”
    This quote really strikes me because it is so true. The city is so big and the brightness, people and the glamour masks the truth. People see Chicago as a big beautiful city, although this is true in some aspects, in other parts it is not at all what people think. The World's Fair is the greatest fair in history and every year they pick a different spot to host. They choose Chigaco and after that, it seems that it was all that the people and world was concerned about. Holmes started a hotel for the World's Fair and took in a lot of different people. Holms killed so many people in such a short time period, at the same place, and while others were in the same hotel. How did he get away with this? It's because everyone was so into the fair that nothing else seemed to matter. Holmes is clever, because the fair is a perfect mask to hide everything he has been doing.

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