The Bomb is a book by Frank Morris written in 1908. The book is actually based on a true story. It is based on an event that happened in Chicago in the late 18th century. This was the Haymarket affair that is also often referred to as the Haymarket Riot. Through this event, the author’s intention is to show how the extent to which society members are willing to do what they believe is right and good for the entire society.
This Haymarket Riot involved a bombing that happened during a labor demonstration in Chicago in 1886 at the Haymarket Square. What started as a peaceful day would later on come to be every tragic. The rally was a very peaceful and was being held to show support for laborers in the city who had been striking. The rally was also organized as a reaction to the fact that several workers had been murdered several days earlier by the police (Carter 271). It was during this rally that a person then threw a bomb into the police as they were attempting to disperse the gathering crowd (David 12). The end result was very tragic indeed. The bomb resulted in the deaths of about seven police officers. Members of the public were also not spare as four of the lost their lives. Scores were aloes injured. In the events following the bombing, several people were arrest and charged with conspiracy. Eight of them were convicted. Seven actually received death sentences while one was sentenced to 15 year’s imprisonment (David 15). Later, on two of those convicted were granted clemency by the governor of the state of Illinois and their death sentences were converted to life imprisonment. One of the convicts committed suicide. The remaining four were hanged in 1887. The trial attracted a lot of attention. In the nation, the trial was however hugely criticized, and many faulted the way it was carried out (Carter 275). The event that happened this day are usually mentioned in the history of labor, and this day is to be very significant to the American labor history (Adelman 45)
Frank Harris book is told from the perspective of the actual bomb thrower who was never really caught. This character is on love with of the novel’s main characters. The police essentially arrested and prosecuted people who may have been involved in the making of the bomb, but never actually oarticipated in the throwing of the bomb. Harris tell his story in very well-articulated manner (Tobin and Gertz 50).
The two main characters in the novel are Louis Ling and Rudolph Schnabel. The two characters are both Germans. The two are representatives of the main types of German men that are often misunderstood. The author writes about the two characters in such an interesting manner that is sometimes hard to understand them fully. The characters are so simple that is hard for their contemporaries. They are also very sincere, and this further makes them come across come as difficult to understand as no human being would exhibit such character traits.
Harris depict the character Schnaubelt as an idealist. He is a man who will accept the standards set by his fellow men without raising question. He also comes across as an individual who is keen on going his own way but at the same time, he is also trying to please others. Schnaubelt is also quite proud as character. However, he is keen to check his pride so that it does not go above conventionalities. He was actually born in Germany. While there, he was educated in gymnasiums as well as in universities. He is a naturally born writer. He chooses to come to America to live the American dream that everyone has been talking about and has been trying to achieve. Schnaubelt also has a lot of beautiful emotions. He has neighborly love; he also has a passion for one woman, he exhibits compassion for fellow men and he also has great ambitions for himself. He has a health egotism that compels him to seek after all the comforts that this world can offer him.
However, beneath all these outwards characteristics, he however has one characteristic that not many see. He has an enormous desire for freedom, indignation as well as rising whenever he sees other humans beige inhumanly treated. He also exhibits great self-denial often sacrificing his individual needs and concerns for the better good.
It is this feeling of sacrifice and self-denial that makes him throw the first bomb towards the police who he believes are oppressing the people. However, although he is the one who does it, he is actually doing it under orders. However, he has pondered over the decision very carefully before he decides to go forth with it. It is, in fact, the first bomb the throws that creates the greatest cat strophe of all. Before making the conscious decision to throw the bomb, he analyzes the case and also the end that will be achieved. He convinces himself in his mind that he wants to play a key part in bringing this ends. It’s is in his process that he meets a man who appears to have the means to the end, and this is Lingg. Trust is established between the two.
He sacrifices his personal ambitions and assumes the responsibility of throwing the bomb. He abandons the work that seemed to bring him close to the freedom that he craves for including life with his beloved Elsie. Schnaubelt who never before even hurt a man via words now assumes the role of throwing a bomb that may potential kill hundreds. He agrees to do it at the command of Lingg. He also becomes Lingg’s servant and follows him around. As they are riding the coach, he starts breaking down physically and emotionally but is determined to stay committed to Lingg who is now his master, later on he remembers Lingg’; s words “ Write the true story of the Chicago tragedy”. (Harris 65)
The world is characterized by a huge craving for sensational and theatrical bravery and Schnaubelt starts thinking that he could have been applauded if he followed his previous dominant instincts where he would have walked into a courtroom and screamed to the jury and the judge that “ All these men are innocent. There is Lingg! He made the bomb and here I am who threw it!” (Harris, 68)
The other major character, Lingg comes across as an average German. He is however quite different from Schnaubelt. At firsts, he is seen as kind, quite, studious and also relatively confiding in other people.
Lingg is a person who knows what he wants. He also realizes that in life, there are two major ways to get what one wants. First he attempts to use education and persuasion. He then attempts to evoke love with love. He also tries to men via their finest instincts, but he fails in all these. It is then that he raises what his adversaries are using. These include brute strength and power.
He, therefore, decides to stop speaking and to stop imploring any longer. He deduces that words are simply shallow things, and it is then that he starts looking for an alternative that can be used to achieve his final goal. He uses his brilliant and scientific mind to create a bomb. He, fortunately, gets a follower in the name of Schnaubelt, who he somehow able to convince to be the actual thrower with bomb finally during the rally. Lingg is however arrested in the aftermath of the bomb incident and charged. He is ultimately found guilty. However, he does not seem apologetic even from the crime that he committed. In fact, he seems to revel at the achievements that he contends the bombing makes, After he has be found guilty and is asked to say anything before he is hanged he belches out that “ Don’t comfort yourselves with the idea that we have died in vain. The Haymarket bomb has stopped the bludgeoning’s and shootings of your police for at least a generation. And that bomb is only the first, not the last.”(Harris, 79)
In conclusion, the story “ The Bomb’ is a brilliantly written book by Frank Harris. The book is a representation of the Haymarket affair, often referred to as the Haymarket Riot. This Riot happened after a bombing that happened during a labor demonstration in Chicago in 1886 Haymarket Square. Using two characters, the author shows the extent to which society members are willing to do what they believe is right and is good for the entire society.
Harris, Frank. The Bomb: A Novel. University of Chicago Press, 1963.
Tobin, A. I., and Elmer Gertz. Frank Harris A Study in Black and White. Ardent Media, 1970.
David, Henry. The History of the Haymarket Affair, Etc.(Revised.). Collier Books, 1963.
Adelman, William John. Haymarket Revisited: a tour guide of labor history sites and ethnic neighborhoods connected with the Haymarket Affair. Illinois labor history society, 1976.
Carter, Everett. ” The Haymarket Affair in Literature.” American Quarterly 2. 3 (1950): 270-278.