The Devil in the White City prompts
1. In the summer of 1895 Detective Frank Geyer captured the imagination of America, making Geyer (according to Erik Larson) “the living representation of how men liked to think of themselves” (355). In what ways do you think this statement is true?
2. Erik Larson says, “exactly what motivated Holmes may never be known” (395). How much sense can you make of Holmes’ motives? Is it important to try to understand someone like Holmes? Why?
3. One of the distinctions Larson draws between, on the one hand, men like Daniel Burnham and Frederick Law Olmsted and, on the other, the murderer H.H. Holmes is that the former “choose to fill their brief allotment of time engaging the impossible” while the latter devoted himself to “the manufacture of sorrow” (xi). Men like Burnham “make no little plans,” seeking instead “the magic to stir men’s blood.” Holmes, on the contrary, says, “I was born with the devil in me.” How do the differences between Burnham and Holmes illustrate what Larson calls “the ineluctable conflict between good and evil?”