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Realism: Regionalism and Naturalism

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1 Realism: Regionalism and Naturalism
Literature of Reconstruction

2 After the atrocities of the Civil War, little idealism remained in the American consciousness. Writers such as Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, and Kate Chopin left behind the idealism of the early century and began experimenting with topics of everyday life. Realism in American literature was a reaction to and a rejection of Romanticism.

3 Immigration From the late 19th to the early 20th centuries, the United States experienced enormous industrial, economic, social and cultural change. A continuous wave of European immigration and the rising potential for international trade brought increasing growth and prosperity to America.

4 Cities became the center of the action.
Industrialization/urbanization=major economic/social changes. (greater divide between the rich/poor) For the first time- a larger, literate working-class population. a need for literature that reflected their lives.

5 In a nutshell . . . Genre American Author
Perceived the individual as... Romantics Ralph Waldo Emerson Henry David Thoreau a god Realists Henry James William Dean Howells Mark Twain simply a person Naturalists Stephen Crane Upton Sinclair Theodore Dreiser a helpless object

6 Authors of Note Kate Chopin- “A Pair of Silk Stockings” “The Story of an Hour” Mark Twain- “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” “The Lowest Animal” Upton Sinclair - The Jungle

7 What is Realism? Literary technique or subject matter, especially the representation of middle-class/ordinary life. A reaction against romanticism- imaginary worlds influenced by rational philosophy interest in scientific method systematizing of the study of documentary history Portrayed characters and events with verisimilitude. Verisimilitude ensures that even a fantasy must be rooted in reality, events should be plausible so readers consider them credible enough to be able to relate them somehow to their experiences of real life.

8 Characteristics Renders reality closely and in comprehensive detail.
Emphasis on verisimilitude, even at the expense of a well-made plot Character is more important than action/plot complex ethical choices are often the subject. Characters-real complexity of temperament and motive; in reasonable relation to nature, to each other, to their social class, to their own past. Class is important; traditionally served interests/aspirations of middle class. Diction is natural vernacular, tone varies Objectivity in presentation becomes increasingly important

9 A Pair of Silk Stockings by Kate Chopin
Do you ever feel a need to escape from the responsibilities of life? What would you do with a free day and unexpected money in your pocket?

10 A Pair of Silk Stockings by Kate Chopin
Kate Chopin (1851–1904) was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Her prosperous parents encouraged her interest in music and reading. At nineteen, Kate married Oscar Chopin. They moved to Louisiana and raised six children. After Oscar’s death when Kate was thirty-one, she returned to St. Louis and began to write.

11 As you read, keep in mind these facts about the story’s time period
•Nylon had not yet been invented in the 1890s; most women wore thick cotton stockings, and silk stockings were a luxury. •Fifteen dollars in the 1890s would buy about three hundred dollars’ worth of goods today.

12 Historical Context In the 1890s, when Kate Chopin wrote this story, women in the United States •could not vote •were not financially independent •had few opportunities for education and employment Activists had begun to work for women’s rights, but progress was slow in coming.

13 Mrs. Sommers seems swept away in a series of actions that she has not anticipated
As you read, look for her underlying feelings the reasons behind her unexpected behavior Are her actions understandable?

14 Motivation refers to the reasons for a character’s behavior.
Like real people, fictional characters often have complex motivations •For us to understand why they act the way they do, their motivations must be believable.

15 Silk Stocking ?? 1. According to Mrs. Sommers’ thoughts and actions at the beginning of the story, what is her primary focus in life? What makes supporting this focus difficult? Has her life always been this way?  2. What need is awakened in her by the pair of silk stockings? What inner conflict does this reveal about Mrs. Sommers?  3. Mrs. Sommers spends all of the precious money on herself. Given the responsible nature of her character, what do you think accounts for this self-indulgence?

16 Questions cont’d 4. While at the matinee, what does Mrs. Sommers notice about the other women who are there? What does this suggest about consumerism and the lifestyle that she is currently enjoying so much? 5. At the end of the story, has Mrs. Sommers day of self-indulgence led to “better days?” In other words, has this fundamentally made Mrs. Sommers’ life better? Why? 6. At the end of the story, has Mrs. Sommers inner conflict been solved? If so, how was it solved? If not, what would actually solve her problems?

17 What is Naturalism? Literature that attempts to apply scientific principles (Darwin) of objectivity and detachment to its study of human beings. Heredity and environment shape human destinies. Human beings are governed by their instincts and passions Focus on working class and poor. Individual vs. Cruel and limiting society Unlike realism, which focuses on literary technique, naturalism implies a philosophical position: for naturalistic writers, since human beings are, "human beasts," characters can be studied through their relationships to their surroundings

18 Characteristics Characters: Frequently ill-educated/lower-class characters Lives governed by the forces of heredity, instinct, and passion. Attempts at exercising free will or choice are hamstrung by forces beyond their control Social Darwinism and other theories help to explain their fates to the reader. Setting: Frequently urban Themes: survival, determinism, violence, and taboo

19 What is Regionalism? Improvements in agriculture, transportation and technology = EXPANSION Literary mode that flourished in the late 19th century implies a recognition from the colonial period to the present of differences among specific areas of the country. focuses on the characters, dialect, customs, topography, and other features particular to a specific region.

20 Characteristics Setting: emphasis on nature and the limitations it imposes, remote and inaccessible, integral to the story/sometimes a character in itself. Characters: concerned with the character of the district/region -may have “types”(quaint or stereotypical), -adhere to the old ways-by dialect, personality traits central to the region. Narrator: educated observer from the world beyond - learns something from locals while preserving sympathetic and/or ironic distance -serves as mediator between the rural folk and urban audience Plots: "nothing happens," storytelling, revolves around the community rituals. Themes: antipathy to change/nostalgia for an always-past golden age. -A celebration of community and acceptance in the face of adversity. -tension/conflict between urban and old-fashioned rural values

21 Regionalism and Mark Twain
Mark Twain was born in 1835 and died in 1910.

22 The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County p. 459
Objectives- Explore/Define/Identify aspects of Regionalist literature Analyze the use of literary conventions and devides to develop character and point of view in the short story Discuss the purposes and significance of literary humor

23 Background The Time and Place Interpret
This story takes place in the early 1860s in a small mining town called Angel’s Camp, which still exists in Calaveras County, California. At Angel’s Camp, Twain first heard someone tell the story that he later developed into “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County Interpret Twain once wrote, “The humorous story may be spun out to great length and may wander around as much as it pleases, and arrive nowhere in particular.” Does this story fit Twain’s description?

24 Literary Devices Characterization Tone Simile Personification
Diction Colloquial- informal speech used in everyday converstaion. It may also inclded regional dialicts. Hyperbole Characterization Notice the sharp contrast between the language of the narrator and the language of Wheeler. Tone Twain’s tone helps make the story humorous. Although the tale of Smiley might seem absurd to most people, Wheeler relates it in a serious manner, as if he believes it is a true story. This juxtaposition between tone and content adds a comic element to the story. Simile Personification




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