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 7 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Minnie’s sister, Anna, who goes by the nickname “Nannie,” comes to Chicago to visit Minnie and Holmes. When she meets Holmes, she notes that he isn’t as handsome as Minnie says, but he has an indescribable charm. Anna finds Chicago impressive but disgusting, especially the slaughterhouses where cows and pigs are brutally killed. For Anna, slaughterhouses symbolize Chicago’s drive to become wealthy and powerful at any cost.
Like so many of the other visitors to Chicago, Anna is attracted and repelled by the city. It’s disgusting, but also energetic; in a way, it’s full of life but also death. This combination of positive and negative qualities, paradoxically, is far more attractive and intriguing than a more straightforwardly welcoming city could ever be.
Themes
Men and Women Theme Icon
Anna, Minnie, and Holmes go to see the World’s Fair: massive buildings, fast-moving trains, and electric lights. The Electricity Building is particularly exciting: there, they see moving pictures designed by Thomas Edison, as well as the phonograph and the first electric chair. Holmes promises Anna and Minnie that they’ll return on July 4 to see the fireworks display, which is predicted to be the most impressive in the city’s history.
The spectacles at the WF, like those in Chicago itself, are both attractive and dangerous — there is electric light, for instance, but also the electric chair. Unsurprisingly, Holmes seems completely comfortable at the WF — he uses it to attract victims to his building, and exemplifies the same combination of attractiveness and danger.
Themes
Modernity and Anonymity Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Benjamin Pitezal goes to the fair and buys a toy for his son, Howard.
Even the people who cynically profit from the WF aren’t immune to its charms.
Themes
Sanity and Insanity Theme Icon
Modernity and Anonymity Theme Icon