The Devil in the White City

The Devil in the White City

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The Devil in the White City Part 3, Chapter 2 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Holmes continues to house visitors to the World’s Fair, though not as many as he’d expected. When women check in, he eagerly accepts them; when men do, he tells them he has no rooms available.
Like Burnham, Holmes’s fortunes rise and fall with the success of the WF: the Fair is successful, but not too successful, and so Holmes is successful but not too successful in finding female victims
Themes
Sanity and Insanity Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Minnie becomes an “inconvenience” to Holmes; she becomes jealous of his attention to the other women in the building. Holmes buys a new apartment, introducing himself to the landowner, John Oker, as Henry Gordon. Holmes explains to Minnie that they need their own place so that they can raise children. Minnie is confused about why Holmes buys a place so far from Englewood, but she agrees to move there, since she finds Holmes’s building gloomy and sad, and wants a sunny place for her sister’s visit. She and Holmes move into their new apartment, where everyone addresses them as Mr. and Mrs. Gordon.
Minnie isn’t even a threat or a tragedy to Holmes; because he has no feelings for other people, she’s only an inconvenience. Larson narrates this passage from Minnie’s perspective, so that the reader understands Holmes’s actions, even though Minnie doesn’t: clearly, Holmes chooses an apartment far from his building because he doesn’t want people addressing him as “Holmes” instead of “Gordon” in front of her, or the other way around.
Themes
Men and Women Theme Icon
The guests in Holmes’s building love Holmes for being warm and inviting — his manner is a little “dangerous,” but that makes their time in Chicago more enjoyable. His building is small and cramped, and doesn’t have large, open common rooms. Still, the guests like that Holmes seems not to mind when women leave suddenly, bills unpaid. He smells vaguely of chemicals, but this is surely because he is a doctor.
Again, Larson narrates from the perspective of people who know and admire Holmes. The thing that the guests in Holmes’s building note passively, such as Holmes’s chemical smell and the small, cramped nature of the building, are in reality evidence that Holmes is a killer. The strange combination  of danger and comfort that attracts the guests to Holmes is the same combination that draws visitors to Chicago.
Themes
Modernity and Anonymity Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon