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42nd Parallel

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Novel by Dos Passos, published in 1930. It is the first of the trilogy U.S.A. (collected 1938), including 1919 (1932) and The Big Money (1936). Interspersed in the narrative are brief biographies of Debs, Burbank, Haywood, Bryan, Minor Keith, Carnegie, Edison, Steinmetz, and La Follette. (For critical discussion, see Dos Passos.)

Fainy (“Mac”) McCreary, a social idealist, bums across the continent, works for an anarchist printer in San Francisco, edits an I.W.W. paper, marries, deserts his wife and children, and goes to Mexico with a revolutionist.

J. Ward Moorehouse becomes a shrewd, ruthless trader, enters Pittsburgh journalism and advertising, divorces his wife, marries a steel heiress, Gertrude Stagle, and fosters a plan of “co-operation” between capital and labor at the outbreak of World War I.

Eleanor Stoddard, an interior decorator in Chicago, decorates the Moorehouse home, and becomes intimate with the capitalist.

Janey Williams, left friendless when her brother Joe enlists in the navy, becomes Moorehouse's secretary, and goes with him to Mexico in a vain attempt to “buy” Mac; again in New York, she quarrels with her brother over U.S. participation in the war, which he denounces as the plot of munitions makers. She becomes intimate with G. H. Barrow, a dishonest labor leader, when Moorehouse concentrates his ardor on Eleanor.

Charley Anderson, a poor North Dakota boy, is attracted to socialism and the I.W.W., travels through the U.S., meets Ben Compton, brother of Janey's roommate Gladys, and learns of Moorehouse's big business propaganda. Disillusioned by the suppression of socialism, and craving action, he and his friend Doc Rogers join a French ambulance corps.

Subjects: Literature

Reference entries

John Dos Passos (1896—1970) American novelist