Last Updated 06 Jul 2020

American Literature Critical Analysis

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"Tom said he slipped Jim's hat off of his head and hung it on a limb right over him, and Jim stirred a little, but he didn't wake. Afterwards Jim said the witches be witched him and put him in a trance, and rode him all over the State, and then set him under the trees again, and hung his hat on a limb to show who done it.

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. the Individual

"Because it ain't in the books so—that's why. Now, Ben Rogers, do you want to do things regular, or don't you?—that's the idea. Don't you reckon that the people that made the books knows what's the correct thing to do? Do you reckon you can learn 'em anything? Not by a good deal. No, sir, we'll just go on and ransom them in the regular way."
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Mark Twain

Realism

Hypocrisy of Southern Culture, Class Issues, Society v. the Individual

"It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder."
The Souls of Black Folk
W.E.B. DuBois

Realism

Double Consciousness, Racial Injustice

"In the history of nearly all other races and peoples the doctrine preached at such crises has been that manly self-respect is worth more than lands and houses, and that a people who voluntarily surrender such respect, or cease striving for it, are not worth civilizing.
In answer to this, it has been claimed that the Negro can survive only through submission. Mr. Washington distinctly asks that black people give up, at least for the present, three things,—
First, political power,
Second, insistence on civil rights,
Third, higher education of Negro youth,—"
The Souls of Black Folk
W.E.B. DuBois

Realism

Not helping by surrendering, people in power are respected

Double Consciousness, Racial Injustice

"In these years there have occurred:
The disfranchisement of the Negro.
The legal creation of a distinct status of civil inferiority for the Negro.
The steady withdrawal of aid from institutions for the higher training of the Negro."
The Souls of Black Folk
W.E.B. DuBois

Realism

History shows Washington's plans won't work

Double Consciousness, Racial Injustice

"They do not expect that the free right to vote, to enjoy civic rights, and to be educated, will come in a moment; they do not expect to see the bias and prejudices of years disappear at the blast of a trumpet; but they are absolutely certain that the way for a people to gain their reasonable rights is not by voluntarily throwing them away and insisting that they do not want them; that the way for a people to gain respect is not by continually belittling and ridiculing themselves; that, on the contrary, Negroes must insist continually, in season and out of season, that voting is necessary to modern manhood, that color discrimination is barbarism, and that black boys need education as well as white boys."
The Souls of Black Folk
W.E.B. DuBois

Realism

Insist on higher education/right to vote

Double Consciousness, Racial Injustice

"It was no wonder, when she stood one day against the stone pillar in whose shadow she had lain asleep, eighteen years before, that Armand Aubigny riding by and seeing her there, had fallen in love with her. That was the way all the Aubignys fell in love, as if struck by a pistol shot."
Desiree's Baby
Kate Chopin

Naturalism

Violent imagery

Regionalism, Gender Issues

"Madame Valmonde bent her portly figure over Desiree and kissed her, holding her an instant tenderly in her arms. Then she turned to the child.
"This is not the baby!" she exclaimed, in startled tones. French was the language spoken at Valmonde in those days.
"I knew you would be astonished," laughed Desiree, "at the way he has grown. The little cochon de lait!""
Desiree's Baby
Kate Chopin

Naturalism

Reacting to darker colored child, no how much he's grown

Regionalism, Gender Issues

"The baby, half naked, lay asleep upon her own great mahogany bed, that was like a sumptuous throne, with its satin-lined half-canopy. One of La Blanche's little quadroon boys - half naked too - stood fanning the child slowly with a fan of peacock feathers. Desiree's eyes had been fixed absently and sadly upon the baby, while she was striving to penetrate the threatening mist that she felt closing about her. She looked from her child to the boy who stood beside him, and back again; over and over."
Desiree's Baby
Kate Chopin

Naturalism

Obsession with categorizing race, husband is the one not all white

Regionalism, Gender Issues

"John is a physician, and PERHAPS—(I would not say it to a living soul, of course, but this is dead paper and a great relief to my mind)—PERHAPS that is one reason I do not get well faster.
You see he does not believe I am sick!
And what can one do?
If a physician of high standing, and one's own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression—a slight hysterical tendency—what is one to do?"
The Yellow Wallpaper
Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Naturalism

Shouldn't be her doctor (conflict of interest), seems scared of him

Gender Issues, Psychological, Chaos

"I never saw a worse paper in my life.
One of those sprawling flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin.
It is dull enough to confuse the eye in following, pronounced enough to constantly irritate and provoke study, and when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit suicide—plunge off at outrageous angles, destroy themselves in unheard of contradictions."
The Yellow Wallpaper
Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Naturalism

Doesn't like that the wall paper is not consistent and is changing

Gender Issues, Psychological, Chaos

"It is fortunate Mary is so good with the baby. Such a dear baby!
And yet I CANNOT be with him, it makes me so nervous."
The Yellow Wallpaper
Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Naturalism

More worried about the wallpaper than the baby

Gender Issues, Psychological, Chaos

"At first he meant to repaper the room, but afterwards he said that I was letting it get the better of me, and that nothing was worse for a nervous patient than to give way to such fancies.
He said that after the wall-paper was changed it would be the heavy bedstead, and then the barred windows, and then that gate at the head of the stairs, and so on."
The Yellow Wallpaper
Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Naturalism

He's treating her more like a patient

Gender Issues, Psychological, Chaos

"But in the places where it isn't faded and where the sun is just so—I can see a strange, provoking, formless sort of figure, that seems to skulk about behind that silly and conspicuous front design."
The Yellow Wallpaper
Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Naturalism

Beginning to imagine things in the wallpaper, starting to see herself

Gender Issues, Psychological, Chaos

"I'm getting really fond of the room in spite of the wall-paper. Perhaps BECAUSE of the wall-paper."
The Yellow Wallpaper
Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Naturalism

Hates the wallpaper, then likes it

Gender Issues, Psychological, Chaos

"There is one end of the room where it is almost intact, and there, when the crosslights fade and the low sun shines directly upon it, I can almost fancy radiation after all,—the interminable grotesques seem to form around a common centre and rush off in headlong plunges of equal distraction."
The Yellow Wallpaper
Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Naturalism

Willing to spend more time with the wallpaper

Gender Issues, Psychological, Chaos

"Dear John! He loves me very dearly, and hates to have me sick. I tried to have a real earnest reasonable talk with him the other day, and tell him how I wish he would let me go and make a visit to Cousin Henry and Julia.
But he said I wasn't able to go, nor able to stand it after I got there; and I did not make out a very good case for myself, for I was crying before I had finished."
The Yellow Wallpaper
Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Naturalism

Finally acknowledging that she is sick

Gender Issues, Psychological, Chaos

"There are things in that paper that nobody knows but me, or ever will.
Behind that outside pattern the dim shapes get clearer every day.
It is always the same shape, only very numerous.
And it is like a woman stooping down and creeping about behind that pattern. I don't like it a bit. I wonder—I begin to think—I wish John would take me away from here!"
The Yellow Wallpaper
Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Naturalism

She's becoming more and more crazy

Gender Issues, Psychological, Chaos

"I have watched John when he did not know I was looking, and come into the room suddenly on the most innocent excuses, and I've caught him several times LOOKING AT THE PAPER! And Jennie too. I caught Jennie with her hand on it once.
She didn't know I was in the room, and when I asked her in a quiet, a very quiet voice, with the most restrained manner possible, what she was doing with the paper—she turned around as if she had been caught stealing, and looked quite angry—asked me why I should frighten her so!"
The Yellow Wallpaper
Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Naturalism

Wallpaper is staining her clothes, she thinks John and Jennie see the same things she does

Gender Issues, Psychological, Chaos

"I think that woman gets out in the daytime!
And I'll tell you why—privately—I've seen her!
I can see her out of every one of my windows!
It is the same woman, I know, for she is always creeping, and most women do not creep by daylight.
I see her on that long road under the trees, creeping along, and when a carriage comes she hides under the blackberry vines.
I don't blame her a bit. It must be very humiliating to be caught creeping by daylight!
I always lock the door when I creep by daylight. I can't do it at night, for I know John would suspect something at once."
The Yellow Wallpaper
Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Naturalism

She is going crazier and crazier, woman has left the wallpaper

Gender Issues, Psychological, Chaos

""I've got out at last," said I, "in spite of you and Jane. And I've pulled off most of the paper, so you can't put me back!"
Now why should that man have fainted? But he did, and right across my path by the wall, so that I had to creep over him every time!"
The Yellow Wallpaper
Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Naturalism

Has gone totally crazy, thinks she's the woman in the wallpaper

Gender Issues, Psychological, Chaos

"He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors.'"
Mending Wall
Robert Frost

Modernism

Knows where property is, doesn't engage

Nature v. Man, Rebelling against Romanticism, Tradition v. Innovation

"Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall"
Mending Wall
Robert Frost

Modernism

Isolationism, more conflict with more interaction

Nature v. Man, Rebelling against Romanticism, Tradition v. Innovation

"When they become so derivative as to become
unintelligible,
the same thing may be said for all of us, that we
do not admire what
we cannot understand"
Poetry
Marianne Moore

Modernism

Changing Poetic Form, Imagism

"In the meantime, if you demand on the one hand,
the raw material of poetry in
all its rawness and
that which is on the other hand
genuine, you are interested in poetry."
Poetry
Marianne Moore

Modernism

Changing Poetic Form, Imagism

"And indeed there will be time
To wonder, "Do I dare?" and, "Do I dare?"
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair— (They will say: "How his hair is growing thin!")
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
(They will say: "But how his arms and legs are thin!")
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse."
Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock
T.S. Eliot

Modernism

Worried what people will think of him

Satirical view of poetic forms, Rebelling against Romanticism

"I am no prophet—and here's no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid."
Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock
T.S. Eliot

Modernism

'Average' man, critique of upperclass

Satirical view of poetic forms, Rebelling against Romanticism

"It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
"That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.""
Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock
T.S. Eliot

Modernism

Miscommunication, admitting human weakness

Satirical view of poetic forms, Rebelling against Romanticism

"Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown."

Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock
T.S. Eliot

Modernism

Mermaids are like poets, jars you out of the fantasy

Satirical view of poetic forms, Rebelling against Romanticism

"They had been at one accord not to hurry through life, not to be always skimping and saving. They saw their neighbours buy more land and feed more stock than they did, without discontent. Once when the creamery agent came to the Rosickys to persuade them to sell him their cream, he told them how much money the Fasslers, their nearest neighbours, had made on their cream last year.

"Yes," said Mary, "and look at them Fassler children! Pale, pinched little things, they look like skimmed milk. I had rather put some colour into my children's faces than put money into the bank."

The agent shrugged and turned to Anton.

"I guess we'll do like she says," said Rosicky."

Neighbor Rosicky
Willa Cather

Modernism

Gender role reversal, other kids live different lives

Tradition v. Innovation, Gender Roles

"Rosicky, the old Rosicky, could remember as if it were yesterday the day when the young Rosicky found out what was the matter with him. It was on a Fourth of July afternoon, and he was sitting in Park Place in the sun. The lower part of New York was empty. Wall Street, Liberty Street, Broadway, all empty. So much stone and asphalt with nothing going on, so many empty windows. The emptiness was intense, like the stillness in a great factory when the machinery stops and the belts and bands cease running. It was too great a change, it took all the strength out of one. Those blank buildings, without the stream of life pouring through them, were like empty jails. It struck young Rosicky that this was the trouble with big cities; they built you in from the earth itself, cemented you away from any contact with the ground. You lived in an unnatural world, like the fish in an aquarium, who were probably much more comfortable than they ever were in the sea."
Neighbor Rosicky
Willa Cather

Modernism

Felt trapped in big city, couldn't be in contact with the ground, how he feels about factory work

Tradition v. Innovation, Gender Roles

""So he carried our supper down, an' a bottle of my wild-grape wine, an' everything tasted good, I can tell you. The wind got cooler as the sun was goin' down, and it turned out pleasant, only I noticed how the leaves was curled up on the linden trees. That made me think, an' I asked your father if that hot wind all day hadn't been terrible hard on the gardens an' the corn.

" 'Corn,' he says, 'there ain't no corn.'

" 'What you talkin' about?' I said. 'Ain't we got forty acres?"

" 'We ain't got an ear,' he says, 'nor nobody else ain't got none. All the corn in this country was cooked by three o'clock today, like you'd roasted it in an oven.'

" 'You mean you won't get no crop at all?' I asked him. I couldn't believe it, after he'd worked so hard.

" 'No crop this year,' he says. 'That's why we're havin' a picnic. We might as well enjoy what we got.'"

Neighbor Rosicky
Willa Cather

Modernism

Should be upset, but they're celebrating, city v. country

Tradition v. Innovation, Gender Roles

"Nearly all the farmers she knew had huge lumps of fist, like mauls, or they were knotty and bony and uncomfortable-looking, with stiff fingers. But Rosicky's was like quicksilver, flexible, muscular, about the colour of a pale cigar, with deep, deep creases across the palm. It wasn't nervous, it wasn't a stupid, lump; it was a warm brown human hand, with some cleverness in it, a great deal of generosity, and something else which Polly could only call "gypsy-like"- something nimble and lively and sure, in the way that animals are."
Neighbor Rosicky
Willa Cather

Modernism

Hard work killed him, selflessness but happy

Tradition v. Innovation, Gender Roles

" He could not see the table where the Justice sat and before which his father and his father's
enemy (our enemy he thought in that despair; ourn! mine and hisn both! He's my father!) stood, but he
could hear them, the two of them that is, because his father had said no word yet: "
Barn Burning
William Faulkner

Modernism

Pushed into father's problems, boy is too upset, case gets thrown out

Challenging Authority, Nuclear Family, Identity

"And older still, he might have divined the true reason: that the element
of fire spoke to some deep mainspring of his father's being, as the element of steel or of powder spoke to
other men, as the one weapon for the preservation of integrity, else breath were not worth the breathing,
and hence to be regarded with respect and used with discretion. "
Barn Burning
William Faulkner

Modernism

Destruction, likes fire over guns

Challenging Authority, Nuclear Family, Identity

""You're getting to be a man. You got to learn. You got to learn to stick to your own
blood or you ain't going to have any blood to stick to you. Do you think either of them, any man there this
morning would? Don't you know all they wanted was a chance to get at me because they knew I had
them beat? Eh?""
Barn Burning
William Faulkner

Modernism

Son wants truth and justice, father doesn't value family

Challenging Authority, Nuclear Family, Identity

"His father had not spoken again. He did not speak again. He did not even look at her. He just stood stiff in
the center of the rug, in his hat, the shaggy iron-gray brows twitching slightly above the pebble-colored
eyes as he appeared to examine the house with brief deliberation. Then with the same deliberation he
turned; the boy watched him pivot on the good leg and saw the stiff foot drag round the arc of the turning,
leaving a final long and fading smear. His father never looked at it, he never once looked down at the rug.
The Negro held the door. It closed behind them, upon the hysteric and indistinguishable woman-wail."
Barn Burning
William Faulkner

Modernism

Challenging authority, leaving his mark

Challenging Authority, Nuclear Family, Identity

"You decline to answer that, Mr. Snopes?" Again his father did not answer. "I'm going to find against you, Mr. Snopes. I'm going to find that you were responsible for the injury to Major de Spain's rug and hold you liable for it. But twenty bushels of corn seems a little high for a man in
your circumstances to have to pay. Major de Spain claims it cost a hundred dollars. October corn will be worth about fifty cents. I figure that if Major de Spain can stand a ninety- five dollar loss on something he paid cash for, you can stand a five-dollar loss you haven't earned yet. I hold you in damages to Major de Spain to the amount of ten bushels of corn over and above your contract with him, to be paid to him
out of your crop at gathering time. Court adjourned."
Barn Burning
William Faulkner

Modernism

Show of authority

Challenging Authority, Nuclear Family, Identity

"Behind him the white man was shouting, "My horse! Fetch my horse!" and he thought for an instant of cutting across the park and climbing the fence into the road, but he did not know the park nor how high the vine-massed fence might be and he dared not risk it. So he ran on down the drive, blood and breath roaring; presently he was in the road again though he could not see it. He could not hear either: the galloping mare was almost upon him before he heard her, and even then he held his course, as if the very
urgency of his wild grief and need must in a moment more find him wings, waiting until the ultimate instant to hurl himself aside and into the weed-choked roadside ditch as the
horse thundered past and on, for an instant in furious silhouette against the stars, the tranquil early summer night sky which, even before the shape of the horse and rider vanished, stained abruptly and violently upward: a long, swirling roar incredible and soundless, blotting the stars, and he springing up and into the road again, running again, knowing it was too late yet still running even after he heard the shot and,
an instant later, two shots, pausing now without knowing he had ceased to run, crying "Pap! Pap!", running again before he knew he had begun to run, stumbling, tripping over some-
thing and scrabbling up again without ceasing to run, look- ing backward over his shoulder at the glare as he got up, running on among the invisible trees, panting, sobbing, "Father! Father!"
Barn Burning
William Faulkner

Modernism

Actually taking action against family

Challenging Authority, Nuclear Family, Identity

""They've been there since the day the truck broke down," he said. "Today's the first time any have lit on the ground. I watched the way they sailed very carefully at first in case I ever wanted to use them in a story. That's funny now."
The Snows of Kilimanjaro
Earnest Hemingway

Modernism

Hasn't written very much, regretting that as he is about to die

Stories told through dialogue (influence of film), Man v. Nature, Gender Roles, Class Issues, Fragmentation

""I did when you were all right. But now I hate it. I don't see why that had to happen to your leg. What have we done to have that happen to us?"

"I suppose what I did was to forget to put iodine on it when I first scratched it. Then I didn't pay any attention to it because I never infect. Then, later, when it got bad, it was probably using that weak carbolic solution when the other antiseptics ran out that paralyzed the minute blood vessels and started the gangrene." He looked at her, "What else'"

"I don't mean that.""

The Snows of Kilimanjaro
Earnest Hemingway

Modernism

Nature is killing man, not admiring nature

Stories told through dialogue (influence of film), Man v. Nature, Gender Roles, Class Issues, Fragmentation

"It had begun very simply. She liked what he wrote and she had always envied the life he led. She thought he did exactly what he wanted to. The steps by which she had acquired him and the way in which she had finally fallen in love with him were all part of a regular progression in which she had built herself a new life and he had traded away what remained of his old life."
The Snows of Kilimanjaro
Earnest Hemingway

Modernism

Part of a higher class and richer, breaking traditional relationships

Stories told through dialogue (influence of film), Man v. Nature, Gender Roles, Class Issues, Fragmentation

"So, he said to himself, we did well to stop the quarrelling. He had never quarrelled much with this woman, while with the women that he loved he had quarrelled so much they had finally, always, with the corrosion of the quarrelling, killed what they had together. He had loved too much, demanded too much, and he wore it all out."
The Snows of Kilimanjaro
Earnest Hemingway

Modernism

Destruction of relationships, does he really love her?

Stories told through dialogue (influence of film), Man v. Nature, Gender Roles, Class Issues, Fragmentation

"I'm getting as bored with dying as with everything else, he thought.

"It's a bore," he said out loud.

"What is, my dear?"

"Anything you do too bloody long."

He looked at her face between him and the fire. She was leaning back in the chair and the firelight shone on her pleasantly lined face and he could see that she was sleepy. He heard the hyena make a noise just outside the range of the fire.

"I've been writing," he said. "But I got tired."

"Do you think you will be able to sleep?"
"

The Snows of Kilimanjaro
Earnest Hemingway

Modernism

Can't be happy doing anything, even his 'passion' of writing

Stories told through dialogue (influence of film), Man v. Nature, Gender Roles, Class Issues, Fragmentation

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"
Then.

Besides,
They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.

I, Too
Langston Hughes

Harlem Renaissance

Future leading to equal rights, position of power at 'the table', others will be ashamed to look back at discrimination

Break away from stereotypes, Racial Issues, Identity

"During this period, white people differed from colored to me only in that they rode through town and never lived there. They liked to hear me I I speak pieces" and sing and wanted to see me dance the parse-me-la, and gave me generously of their small silver for doing these things, which seemed strange to me for I wanted to do them so much that I needed bribing to stop, only they didn't know it. The colored people gave no dimes. They deplored any joyful tendencies in me, but I was their Zora nevertheless. I belonged to them, to the nearby hotels, to the county-everybody's Zora.
But changes came in the family when I was thirteen, and I was sent to school in Jacksonville. I left Eatonville, the town of the oleanders, a Zora. When I disembarked from the river-boat at Jacksonville, she was no more. It seemed that I had suffered a sea change. I was not Zora of Orange County any more, I was now a little colored girl. "
How It Feels To Be Colored Me
Zora Neale Hurston

Harlem Renaissance

Was in an all black community and was unique, once she moved she became another colored girl

Challenging Black Southerner's reputation, Racial Issues, Identity, Fragmentation

"No, I do not weep at the world--I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife."
How It Feels To Be Colored Me
Zora Neale Hurston

Harlem Renaissance

Is not defined by how other's view her

Challenging Black Southerner's reputation, Racial Issues, Identity, Fragmentation

"The position of my white neighbor is much more difficult. No brown specter pulls up a chair beside me when I sit down to eat. No dark ghost thrusts its leg against mine in bed. The game of keeping what one has is never so exciting as the game of getting."
How It Feels To Be Colored Me
Zora Neale Hurston

Harlem Renaissance

Harder to maintain wealth than obtain it

Challenging Black Southerner's reputation, Racial Issues, Identity, Fragmentation

"I have no separate feeling about being an American citizen and colored. I am merely a fragment of the Great Soul that surges within the boundaries

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American Literature Critical Analysis. (2018, Jan 15). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/american-literature-219330/

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