The station owner, a plutocratic bigot named Bingamon, explains to Rheinhardt: “People can’t see because they don’t have the orientation, isn’t that right?
He falls in with Geraldine, a young drifter from West Virginia—one of Stone’s few successfully realized female characters.
For a time, Geraldine and Rheinhardt make a wounded pair in the French Quarter, until he can’t bear the intimacy and drives her away.
On cue, he exhorts the crowd of thousands with a perversion of virtuosity that displays Stone’s power to combine irony and terror:“Let us consider the American Way … The American Way is innocence,” Rheinhardt announced.
American innocence shall rise in mighty clouds of vapor to the scent of heaven and confound the nations!

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