by E. L. Doctorow Over the course of the novel, the Waterworks, by E.L. Doctorow, the author uses parallelism with the characters and plot to give the reader a deeper sense of the corruption that existed in
during the post-civil war period. One of the parallels used by Doctorow, is comparing the events of the plot with the events of the more general corruption of the Tweed Ring. Throughout the story, as the plans of Augustus Pemberton and the rest of his sinister cohorts are uncovered, so are those of the Tweed Ring. When the reader first starts to get a glimpse of the mystery behind Mr. Pemberton's plans, so does one read of the beginning of the unearthing of the evils of the Tweed Ring. Now, if this is understood, one can see that the entire story is a microcosm of the greater corruption of New York city. If this is so, then the events and characters who uncover this singular plot are in actuality a microcosm of the greater downfall of the post-Civil War corruption in government. The two main characters who discover the mystery are Captain Donne and the person who tells the story, an editor. These two men are very similar in many ways. Firstly, their jobs are very much related: both jobs are to reveal information. Both a newspaper editor and a police captain seek to find the unknown. However, although they are involved in the same task, their purpose and therefore their methods are different. A newspaper editor is interested in revealing the hidden, for the knowledge of the people. On the other hand, a police captain, is more interested in simply finding the truth and not necessarily making it public. This is the basic difference between the two men. Over the course of the story, Donne is the one who is mostly responsible for finding out the secret of Augustus. The reason for this can be linked to the fact that he is the private man, not the public. Augustus and his group were powerful men with powerful connections and therefore were in control of the public. Therefore, an editor of a paper cannot fight such a battle against these people. It takes someone who can work behind the scenes for such an investigation. This is why Donne is able to uncover them. Now if the reader understands that this is in fact a microcosm of what was occurring in the city government, then one can understand that this is how they (the Tweed Ring) were brought down.