An autobiography by the noted American novelist covers Dreiser's life up to his departure for St. Louis to work as a reporter for the Globe-Democrat.
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: About Dawn: An Autobiography of Early Youth Published in 1931, just as the country was entering the darkest days of the Great Depression, Dawn is a major American writer's engrossing effort to understand how he had become the person that he was. It opens in a small house on a dingy street in Terre Haute, Indiana, where the author is born, the ninth of ten children, on August 27, 1871. Central to Dreiser's story is his Czech mother's struggle to keep her family together in the face of chronic poverty and her husband's inability to earn a living. She is all-enduring and all-forgiving, one of Dreiser's triumphs of characterization. The father, a disabled German Catholic millworker, is pitiful, luckless, and powerless to impress his moral authority on his indifferent children, all of whom are magnetized by pleasure and material display. They are the musically talented Paul, a simple-hearted, generous sensualist; the sullen Rome, an amoral wanderer, often in jail, always full of drink and braggadocio; the four sisters, looking only for fun, finery, and handsome moneyed young men; and Theodore, sickly, withdrawn, finding beauty in nature and in books but little solace from his inborn fatalism.