A Hotel for the Fair or A Hotel for Murders?



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In the book, The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, the chapters went back and forth from good and evil. The chapter A Hotel for the Fair gives the feeling of evil because Holmes has begun his plan and preparations for the murders he will commit. Before the book begins Larson prepares the reader for what he/she is going to read. Good and evil is seen all throughout the book, and gives the reader an emotional roller coaster of a historic events that should never be forgotten.


    Before the story begins, the page Evil Imminent catches the reader’s eye. Evil Imminent is a preview of what will be read and the truth behind it all. Larson prepares the reader for a story about two men and how they are different. He uses Burnham as the good and Holmes as the evil. “However strange or macabre some of the following incidents may seem, this is not a work of fiction.” (xi) Larson wanted his readers to know that what they were about to read was for the most part true events that took place.

    A Hotel for the Fair is a chapter that mostly seems evil when it is read but to those in that time it is seen to be good. H.H. Holmes bought a pharmacy and then decided to turn it into a hotel for guest when the fair arrived. For those in the 1890’s, Holmes turning his building into a hotel for guests seemed to be a wonderful idea Holmes used his charm to make the police and others believe he was doing only good things. “Far from being suspicious, the officers had become friendly, even protective.” (85)

    Many people saw good behind Holmes idea, but behind everything was the evil Holmes had begun to desire. THe real ideas behind his building renovation were not seen by many. Holmes knew of his plan to begin the murders while renovating, so he installed all the necessary tools and equipment he needed to avoid getting caught. He tried charm to avoid suspicion from the workers he used. Before that, Holmes tried to work his way into wealth of his wife, Maryta’s great uncle, who had his doubts about Holmes.

    In conclusion, A Hotel for the Fair, really portrays the good and evil. Holmes tried to show his good to mask his evil. The chapter shows the theme and the images that would help distinguish the good and the evil. What the people of Chicago in 1890 saw vs what has actually happened proves the theme to be in the chapter. Good vs Evil is seen all throughout the book, and gives the reader an emotional roller coaster of historic events that should never be forgotten.

Larson, Erik. The Devil in the White City. Vintage, 2004




DWC Actor choices

The Devil in the White City will soon be made into a movie. We know that Leonardo DiCaprio will play the character H.H. Holmes and everyone must be wondering who will be playing the other characters. In the group I was working in we came up with a few choices we thought would best suit the characters in the book.

The group thought that Martin Scorsese choice of Leonardo DiCaprio playing H.H. Holmes would be a good choice because of what Leonardo has played in. Leonardo knows how to embody the character that he is playing and use that in his acting. Erik Larson describes Holmes as someone that, “He walked with confidence and dressed well, conjuring an impression of wealth and achievement…He had dark hair and striking blue eyes… ‘They are blue. Great murderers, like great men in other walks of activity, have blue eyes’”(35). This shows that Holmes was striking to people that he came in contact with and he had a way around people to like him. That is what Leonardo does in his acting, he will show that he can work his way around people and show that he has power. We also chose Daniel Burnham and John Root these two characters are partners in building of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. We decided to chose actors that was close in age because it would give the chemistry that Burnham and Root needed. We decided that Jude Law would play Daniel Burnham and that Tom Hardy would play John Root. Root was the architectural genius and had a certain intelligence that people admired. Erik Larson says, “‘His conversational powers were extraordinary,’ a friend said. ‘ There seemed to be no subject which he had not investigated and in which he was not profoundly learned.’ He had a sly sense of humor” (27). Tom Hardy goes with Root because Hardy has played in many thriller movies that shows his imagination. That shows that he has the intelligences that he needs to talk to people in a extraordinary way. Burnham was the architect behind the World’s fair, he was the businessman between him and Root. We thought the actor Jude Law would best fit this because Jude Law has played as an architect in a few movies. In the movies that Jude Law has been in shows that he is a businessman and shows that he is someone in charge. Erik Larson describes Burnham as, “Burnham was said to be the business genius of his firm, Root the artist”(53). This is why we put the actors Jude Law and Tom Hardy as Root and Burnham. Another character that worked with Burnham and Root was Frederick Olmsted. We picked the actor Donald Sutherland to play Olmsted. Olmsted was the landscape architect that Burnham and Root hired. Olmsted was driven to his work and had much pride in his work, “ Olmsted had a reputation for brilliance and tireless devotion to his work” (53). Sutherland played in many movies as a guy with power and as a guy that would take pride in his work. Sutherland has played in many serious movies and is why he is perfect to play Olmsted. The other character we casted is George Ferris. George Ferris was unnamed throughout the majority of the book. This hid is identity from people knowing who was building the ferris wheel. Erik Larson said that Ferris was, “At one table sat a thirty-three-years-old engineer from Pittsburgh who ran a steel-inspection company that had branch offices in New York and Chicago and that already possessed the exposition contract to inspect the steel used in the fair’s buildings”(155). Ferris was famous for his work that is why we picked the actor Finn Wittrock to play him. Finn Wittrock is famous for the many movies he has played in. He always played the main character in the movies he was in. He was the actor that shows people how to make it to the top no matter the situation. The last character that we picked was Benjamin Pitezel. Pitezel was Holmes housemaid until he joined with Holmes by taking his cover and getting arrested for what Holmes did. Pitezel was always a side kick “‘Pitezel was his tool,’ a district attorney said, ‘his creature’” (70). The actor we picked for Pitezel was Robert Downey Jr. because he always played the side man in his movies. Even though he was the side man he would show that he needed others help to get to the top and that is what Pitezel did with Holmes.

In conclusion, we used these actors as choices based on the description given in the book. We also used the mental images we got from reading the book to pin point a particular actor that followed the description from the book. The group did not have trouble agreeing on the characters and the actors.

Who would you choose?

The novel “The Devil in the White City” written by Erik Larson will soon be made into a movie directed by Martin Scorsese. In the movie the main character H.H. Holmes will be played by Leonardo DiCaprio. I believe that DiCaprio is very well suited for this role because he can take the part of any character and make it his own. Holmes is seen as a very likable man by everyone he meets. Larson describes Holmes as man who has ” walked with confidence and dressed well, conjuring the impression of well and achievement.” DiCaprio has the ability to take these traits and make them his own to play the part of Holmes.


1111.jpgFor the other main characters like Daniel Burnham and George Ferris, I believe they can be played by Ben Affleck and Toby Maguire. Daniel Burnham to be played by Ben Affleck because of the description Larson makes about him and the image that is taken from him when you see him. Burnham is seen as a wealthy and accomplished man by all the work he has done all over the country. George Ferris should be played by Toby Maguire because of the other movies that he has played in. Ferris is an architect given the opportunity to prove himself at the World Fair in Chicago. Maguire could take the character is make him into the success that he becomes later in the book and prove that he is a successful man.


Overcoming Prison Stereotypes


bettsThroughout “A Question of Freedom”, Dwayne Betts would talk about his love for learning and the grades he made when he was in high school. In many parts of his book he would talk about all the things he wanted to achieve while in prison. For example, he wanted to learn to speak spanish so that he could communicate with the guys in prison better. He began to work past just being a prisoner with no future. Although he spent part of his life in prison, he did not let it define him as a person.

    People are released from prison everyday and do not have the opportunity to go home to family and find a job. For those people newly released from prison, going out into the world and making a difference for themselves is difficult. Many companies looking for new employees ask the question if there is a history of jail pr prison time and based their answer of employment on that one answer. In prison or out, the prisoner will always have the label of “convict,” “prisoner,” or “felon.” Unlike most, Betts took action while in prison. Betts began to learn Spanish from other inmates. Betts is not the only inmate that used his sentence as a tool rather than a punishment. Many other inmates used their time to further their education and read to gain a better understanding of things that they would hear about.

    Prison came with it’s own language barrier. There were many types of slang words that were used, but the barrier was mostly between those that only know english and those that only know Spanish. Betts encountered a time when he was in an awkward situation because he did not know much Spanish. “That’s the moment I decided to learn Spanish. I wanted to be able to speak to Droopy and his folks in their language the same way they spoke to me in English” (42). Betts wanted to overcome that barrier that made it awkward for him to hang out around other guys while they were speaking a different language. He could have just gave up talking to Droopy and his friends because he did not understand what they were saying, but instead he took the time to learn the language.

    Learning a new language was not the only accomplishment he had in prison.Betts read tons of books and wrote poems. After being given a book on poetry, Betts began to write poems of his own. He spent most of the years that he was in prison reading and writing poems. He began sending in his poems to magazines and newspapers. After many rejection letters his poem was published. Having his work published helped him to overcome some of the stereotype as a “convict” or “felon.”

    “A Question of Freedom”for me is telling mostly hoe Betts is not just a man who spent time in prison for carjacking. His memoir gives light that just because you have been in prison does not mean your life is over. “I have seen things I will not recover from And from those things I fashioned somewhat a life.” (232) Throughout his life in prison, Betts started to make a name for himself and succeeded. He never let the time that he was in prison overpower his yearning to learn and get past the stereotype he was in.


Betts, R Dwayne. A Question of Freedom. Avery, 2009

Oh, the places I have gone!

My name is Taylor and I am a freshman here at Lenoir-Rhyne. I love to travel! During the summer, I am rarely home. The farthest place I have been would be Wisconsin because my family does not believe that I should go out of the country. Many of my trips are for vacation but the others are saved for the times that I would go on mission trips. With my youth group, the mission trips have taken me to many new places. For example, Georgia, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Ohio.

img_2165Many of my family vacations have taken me to many fun places.  For example, Williamsburg, Virginia, Washington DC, Mytrle beach, Oak Island, Southport, Florida, Georgia, Maryland and this summer the mountains of Tennessee. My family enjoys making our vacations educational.


My favorite place of all was my trip to Chicago, Illinois. I went with my youth group on our way to Wisconsin in 2014. During my trip to the Windy City, I saw the bean, Navy Pier and a Cubs game at Wrigley field. We were there for only one day, but it was the perfect day to go.


Traveling is a big part of my life and who I am. I have memories that will last the rest of my life!