It Can't Happen Here Summary
Sinclair Lewis

Everything you need to understand or teach It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis.

  • It Can't Happen Here Summary & Study Guide

It Can't Happen Here Overview

"It Can’t Happen Here" is a political novel written by Sinclair Lewis. It was published in 1935, and the plot takes place from 1936 to 1938. The story follows two parallel narratives: the rise of a fascist dictator in America, and the reactions of small-town newspaper editor Doremus Jessup in response to these political developments. The fictional dictator in question is Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip, a folksy and charismatic senator from an unspecified American state. Windrip wins the 1936 Democratic nomination for President, beating out incumbent President Franklin Roosevelt. Windrip runs on a campaign platform of government-controlled commerce as a solution for the problems of the Great Depression. Once in power, Windrip uses military strength to establish absolute control of the American government and install himself as a dictator. Much of these events are viewed through the perspective of Doremus Jessup, a traditional liberal and a newspaper editor in the fictional town of Fort Beulah, Vermont. As Windrip's administration becomes increasingly tyrannical, Doremus and his friends and family become increasingly involved in the resistance effort opposing Windrip. The story of the novel is inspired by real-world dictators such as Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Joseph Stalin, and the narrative explores themes of morality, democracy, community, tolerance, and family.

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