Both U.S.! and The America Play take what we know about our history and twist it to melodramatically represent modern day culture. The reader already knows what Upton Sinclair accomplished during his lifetime, and, in the novel, he has constantly been trying to change an aspect of American society. Due to his frequent assassinations by his opposition and resurrections by people hoping he would spur another movement, Sinclair’s assassinations become more famous than his actual achievements. Society becomes enthralled in the process of killing him.
Likewise, in The America Play, the foundling father discovers the public’s enjoyment of personally killing Abraham Lincoln. Anonymous people excitedly walk up to his back left shoulder, point the gun to the foundling father’s head, and shoot. There is no recognition of any of Lincoln’s achievements. After a customer has completed his assassination, the foundling father nods to his Lincoln shaped coin collector, where people pay before they play. By running this business, the foundling father is essentially replaying the part of a melodrama when the victimized hero is unable to save the day. However, he does so because it is what the public wanted.
Why does the public in both US! and The America Play take so much enjoyment in killing the historical figure? The American icon that brought positive changes to the country. It is because, in US!, they know that Sinclair will be resurrected, and, in The America Play, they know that the assassination is faked, and that this Lincoln will miraculously revive himself so that the next customer can get the same enjoyment that he or she did. Both novels resemble the current form of amusement that is popular in society. Action movies that involve the good guys killing the bad guys are almost always successful. The most popular video games involve killing as many people as you can in order to successfully overcome the adversary. We currently live in a world where people want to be the killers. A world where we commonly overlook the achievements accomplished by individuals and focus our attention to the acts of violence. The writing style in US! and The America Play make death seem nonchalant and acceptable, and to much of America, that is the case.