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American Literature discussion topics: 1. Discuss Sarah Orne Jewett Charles Chesnutt contributed local color fiction nineteenth century stories respective regions (Jewett writing New England Chesnutt South).
Sarah Orne Jewett and Charles Chesnutt played essential roles in promoting concepts and thinking in general in the regions of New England, and, respectively, the American South. The fact that these people's writings provide suggestive sketches of village life in the U.S. makes it possible for readers to gain a complex understanding of conditions in the country in the late nineteenth century. Their texts demonstrate that there is much more to the American background during the period than meets the eye. Both Jewett and Chesnutt adopted regionalism as one of the principal ideas in their texts and virtually created texts that have become an active part of American traditionalism.
Jewett's "The Country of the Pointed Firs" focuses on presenting readers with a metropolitan traveler's perspective of a rural community that has little to nothing to do with the progress experienced by the rest of the country. Even though some might be inclined to associate this traveler with a pilgrim that simply wanted to settle in a comfortable location, Jewett's traveler is actually more similar to modern day tourists. It is as if this character concentrates on having readers join him in learning more about things in New England's rural areas (Jewett 284).
Even though it appears that Jewett wants her works to be differentiated from exploration texts, she "place her own regionalist writing and that of her peers in an identifiable literary history" (Joseph 24). This woman practically considered that it was essential for her readers to become acquainted with her thinking and that her imaginary reader in particular, Phebe, needed to have access to her writings. She considered that her thoughts were extremely valuable not only because they were her own, but also because she considered that it was important for individuals in the twentieth century and later on to be familiarized with conditions in the nineteenth century in New England's rural areas (Fetterley & Pryse 1).
Jewett started to acknowledge "the effectiveness of focusing on a specific geographical location" (American Literature Since the Civil War 32) consequent to the moment when she read Harriet Beecher Stowe's "The Pearl of Orr's Island." Stowe's novel made it possible for her to consider that she could write with regard to people in rural New England in an attempt to have society understand that they were not as limited as the masses might be inclined to think.
Chesnutt's works played an important role in providing the masses with a complex view of African-American life in the South. Even with the fact that many criticized his works because he had a tendency to focus mainly on race, his thinking was certainly impressive and he can be considered to be largely responsible for society's understanding of the Old South. The thin line between exploration and fiction is a concept that he constantly dealt with, thus making it difficult for a great deal of explorers to appreciate his works when regarding things strictly from a point-of-view involving their field of work (American Literature Since the Civil War 41).
In spite of the fact that he writes rather similarly to magazines in the nineteenth century, Chesnutt actually wants his work to address readers by providing them with a more exotic version of the South. The writer wants his readers to identify with his perspective regarding matters in the South as seen from the point-of-view of someone who is not necessarily interested in the racial aspect of the story. "Chesnutt thereby proposes a kind of "close" or relational reading as a way of understanding how frames and tales intersect" (Fetterley & Pryse 21).
"The Goophered Grapevine" is a perfect example of Chesnutt's writing style and it makes it possible for readers to understand how the writer intended to emphasize the wrongness related to believing in stereotypes. In spite of the fact that Chesnutt was mostly white, his African-American background motivated him to take on his identity proudly. He virtually started to lobby with regard to how the masses failed to see beyond race and highlighted that people should change their thinking concerning African-Americans and their presumed inferiority.
Chesnutt mainly designed his works as fiction and was not necessarily concerned in the regionalism that they put across. However, the stories actually proved to be more important when considering local color than when considering fiction. This is also reflected by the fact that he lost most of his readers by the end of his life, especially taking into account that both white and African-American audiences failed to comprehend his exact thinking. The Harlem Renaissance occurred during the last few years of his life and enabled him to understand that his works were actually meant to provide society with a complex outlook of the Old South and of how African-Americans there were actually more intelligent that their white contemporaries thought.
2. Although it is somewhat difficult to apply a single tag to Robert Frost, it is only safe to say that his works successfully challenged the works of pre-modern writers and that his thinking was very innovative in comparison to thinking expressed by his contemporaries. Even with this, he adopts a rather subtle way of doing so and thus makes it problematic for people analyzing his poems to understand that he is actually a modernist writer. One can actually claim that Frost is located at the intersection of non-modern and modern writing, as he virtually makes a transition from a genre to the other when considering most of his works.
One of the best methods of understanding more regarding Frost's determination to create modern works while also expressing interest in previous concepts would be to look at "Pan With Us," the poem published in the writer's "A Boy's Will." Frost appears to intentionally refrain from providing his readers with a complex image of his thinking. The poem is thus meant to be interpreted and practically works as a figure of speech. This is most probably an attempt to have readers get actively involved in finding a meaning for his writings.
"Pan With Us" does not hesitate to put across the fact that Frost and individuals living contemporary to him were provided with a modern version of society. However, the poem also appears to be directed at having audiences understand that the poet felt sorry for the fact that society seemed to forget about its background as it got engaged in promoting more innovative thinking. Frost is basically a nostalgic and this is demonstrated throughout this poem. Although he uses the "The gray of the moss of walls were they" (Frost) in an attempt to express regret that the old ways are no longer respected, the verse also seems to act as a parody of earlier times.
"The Death of a Hired Man" is yet another poem that makes it possible for readers to acknowledge the modernism present in Frost's works. The three characters present in the poem are each meant to have readers associate them with particular values. Warren, the authoritarian husband can be associated with capitalism while Silas, the old man in need of a job, can be considered to represent the numerous workers who were exploited by capitalists during the era.
Silasis a hard-working individual, but is rarely compensated for his determination. Frost most probably wanted readers to understand that this character is the poet's nostalgic attempt to emphasize that change is not necessarily something good. Even with the fact that this character is portrayed as being exploited as a result of his benevolent nature, it appears that Frost also wants to provide people with the feeling that individuals like Silas are old-fashioned and unlikely to experience success in a society that is focused on things other than honest hard-working men. The moments when the protagonist is shown as an old individual are essential in demonstrating that he is unable to survive in a modern society. This is one of the elements that demonstrate that Frost is also interested in portraying the old society in a parody-like manner. Warren's capitalist thinking makes it difficult for him to appreciate his brother and the fact that he is solely interested in profits influences him in considering his brother to be no different from a typical worker that he could hire. The modern world is relatively similar to Warren because it is focused on exploiting hard-working men by paying them little wages and by thinking that they are simple tools that need to be worked out until they reach their maximum potential.
"Home Burial" is also an important poem that Frost wrote in an attempt to relate to the wrongness related to a money-interested capitalist society. The husband in the poem struggles to have his wife understand that there is nothing wrong with burying his own son. He emphasizes that people are generally interested in other people when they are alive and healthy. From his…[continue]
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