Undergraduate Honors Thesis


The Vulnerability of Democracy: Warnings Against Fascism in Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here and Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America Public Deposited

  •           This thesis analyzes some of the methods fascists have used to gain power in American democracy and how Americans responded to these methods as they have been represented in the alternative historical novels of It Can’t Happen Here and The Plot Against America set during the World War II period. Keeping in mind the realistic qualities that are thematized in Sinclair Lewis’s and Philip Roth’s cautionary tales, this study examines how It Can’t Happen Here and The Plot Against America identify the methods of manipulative populism, radicalization through binarization, and propaganda networks as tactics utilized by fascists to deceive Americans into voting them into power. This thesis will also examine the importance of proactivity and resistance as values under the threat of fascism.

                The novels thematize the desperation, economic struggle, intolerance, and apathy that facilitate the rise of fascists and demagogues. These themes resonate with the socioeconomic climate of the non-fictional United States from the 1930s to the 1940s. Emphasizing America’s social atmosphere, I draw attention to the characterizations of the antagonists, protagonists, and supporting characters in Lewis’s and Roth’s books. In performing a close reading of their characters, their actions, and their real life counterparts, I aim to validate the authors’ concerns about how fascism can develop within the United States through democratic processes.

Date Awarded
  • 2023-04-12
Academic Affiliation
Committee Member
Granting Institution
Last Modified
  • 2023-04-16
  • Boulder
Resource Type
Rights Statement


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