The Alienist and The Underdogs - Literary Essay Example

Published: 2019-07-08
The Alienist and The Underdogs - Literary Essay Example
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Literature Analysis Theodore Roosevelt
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 938 words
8 min read

The novel The Alienist by Caleb Carr is set up in 1846. The novel is set around a psychologist called Kreizler Theodore Roosevelt, who is not the favorite person to his colleagues and the public because he holds a different view about people who are mentally ill. The plot of the novel is about Dr. Kreizler participation in a series of murders that target New York, poor immigrants. Despite being shunned by his colleagues, the police commissioner seeks the help of Dr. Kreizler to capture the killer. Other than the way the serial killer is presented and the historical setting of the novel, the interesting thing about the novel is the way Dr. Kreizler managed to come up with the strategy of profiling the killer's behavior and eventually getting to the killer. However, it was disappointing how the suspect was killed by the thugs who made it impossible to know why the suspect became a killer.

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The main theme in the novel The Alienist is changing times. Dr. Kreizler is shunned by his colleagues for his different opinions when it comes to insanity. Dr. Kreizler does not agree with what the majority of the public and practitioners think about insanity; that insane people are the way they are for unknowing reasons. Instead, he believes that people are insane due to some childhood experiences. Dr. Kreizler is the main character in the novel, and he play a significant role in changing the way people view insane people. Dr. Kreizler proved that not everyone who acts insane is insane and by taking Cyrus to his home there was no case of homicide blamed on Cyrus. The author of this novel successfully brings out the picture of history in the city of New York by creating a dirty place where life was cheap and the rich did not come near such a place; of course compared to New York now it is a totally different place. Caleb Carr is the author of The Alienist, and he lives in the town of Berlin, New York. He attended Kenyon College and New York University where he graduated with a B.A in Diplomatic History and Military History. He was raised in Manhattan and spent most of his life on the lower east side. He once ran for office as a Democrat but came last out of four candidates.

The novel The Underdogs is set up in the early 1900s after the rise and fall of a group of rebels in the Mexican Revolution. The novel describes the rise of a farmer called Demetrio to becoming a leader of a rebel army and how he came to his downfall and the eventual extinction of his army. The novel charts how Demetrio was forced to flee from his farm by the then federal soldiers. He then collects other peasants who were outclassed but due to Demetrios tactics and marksmanship the federal retreat but leaving him with a gun wound which makes Demetrio very sick. However, he is helped by Camilla, who is a beautiful lady who loves one of Demetrios compatriots. After being seen as heroes and winning other fights, the Demetrio army called Zacatecas lost their revolution purpose and started murdering and looting. Gradually towns started turning up against the army group seeing them as intruders and bad people rather than the heroes they were earlier. After being abandoned by Luis, Demetrio returns to his wife and child at the farm.

The main theme in the novel The Underdogs is money. When the federal raid the farms and villages they take everything with them the money, animals and women. The characters in the novel either are exposed by the author as being poor or rich. The same way the revolutionaries after winning their battles go to bars and restaurants waving their animals and demanding for food and drinks. Anything of value is collected by the revolutionaries including jewelry and other valuables such as clothes. Due to the struggle they have gone through the revolutionaries feel that looting is justified and must be considered to be their payment for the services of chasing away the Federals. One reason the revolutionaries eventually lost their fame as heroes is because of their lawlessness and their greediness and looting nature.

The main character in the novel The Underdogs is Demetrio Macias. He is significant to the novel because he portrays the possibility of a common man rising from nothing to leading a whole group to winning against the evil federal army that used to oppress the common man. Demetrio also plays an important role of showing how liberators can change to be oppressors. Together with some of his new recruits they murder and loot their peoples belonging which led to Luis abandoning him and eventually a decline of his revolutionary group. Azuela is successful in bringing the real history in the story through the description of the Mexican rural side and village, the farm and the lifestyle clearly shows how the old Mexico looks like. Farmers and their animals and small families together with the way ladies dresses are a clear description of the old Mexican way of life. Mariano Azuela was born in 1873 and died in 1952. He was sent to a Catholic seminary when he was only fourteen years old but left his religious studies and later attained a Masters Degree.


Azuela, Mariano. 1979. "The underdogs." Azuela and the Mexican Underdogs.

Carr, Caleb. 1994. The alienist. New York: Random House.

Carr, Caleb. 2006. The Alienist A Novel. [S.l.]: Random House Publishing Group.

Robe, Stanley Linn, and Mariano Azuela. 1979. Azuela and the Mexican underdogs. Berkeley: University of California Press.

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