American Fiction in the beginning of XX century

The peculiarities of fiction of 20s-30s on the example of works by Scott Fitzgerald “The Ice Palace”, William Faulkner “That Evening Sun” and John Steinbeck “Flight” can be outlined in the following way: personal wanderings and searching of people for themselves in the Post-war period are leitmotifs of all these three works. Moreover, contrasting of the North and the South in America are common points for these authors. This can be explained by the changes in American society that occurred during this period. After World War I people were tired of cruelties and violence and have already lost their self-identities. Culture and identity are so closely connected that the restoration of the whole cultures was greatly dependent on the restoration of separate individual’s identity. There was a need for people to restore their ideals for worshipping. An inner world of an individual was devastated. This can be shown in the example of Sally Carrol from Fitzgerald’s work when she imagined “the Ice Palace”. This place was a spiritual asylum for the main heroine, where she wanted to escape from the scares of the Great War in Europe. Nevertheless, the main heroine fails when she tries to forget about her past in the South and dreams about her future in the future in the North.

In the work by Faulkner “That Evening Sun” Southerners are also reflected in a negative light. Controversies between white and black people are another logical outcome of constant opposition between the North and the South of America. In the work by Steinbeck historical context is less evident. At first it may seem that the author shows a conflict between men and women; on the other hand, it is evident that the author depicts a complicated process of an individual’s process for self-identification, a biography of an escaper. Still, the main features of racism and Marxism in the 30s are evident throughout the story. Again, it is clearly seen that people are dying without their ideals. They have lost their ideals after World War II. Moreover, Steinbeck is more focused on a strong connection between an individual and the Universe. He appeals for the importance of extraterrestrial power that draws individuals up for certain actions. Moreover, an individual is opposed to the power of nature. An unequal fight of a man against the power of nature is an even more challenging thorny path for a man than his oppositions against other men during World War II.

Consequently, it is evident that the fiction of the 20s-30s was marked by writers’ reflection of the historical and cultural background of that time. A man is shown as a weak creature, which is unable to oppose to inequities caused by racism or fascism; he is also unable to oppose to the great power of nature. Citizens and peasants of that period of time are supposedly weak because their ideals were destructed after World War I and II. Moreover, a man is shown as an escaper from reality, which wants to restore his national ideals and find a calm place for future pacified and calm living.
Moreover, a man even if he has a hope to restore his ideals usually fails, as it is claimed by Fitzgerald. From Steinbeck’s perspective, a man should live in a constant struggle for a better life and to be a vigilant adventurer. Faulkner is the developer of Southern gothic esthetic and he separates the real life of his characters from the South, which at one level in their real lives and at another level as certain historical and cultural symbols. Generally, the atmosphere of American fiction at the beginning of the XX century is dark. Nevertheless, by means of dark connotations of their works, the American writers managed to oppose cruelties of those time and possible life perspectives for Americans in case they would restore their national ideals and hope in themselves.

 

Bibliography
1. Belasco, Susan and Johnson, Linck. The Bedford Anthology of American Literature, Volume Two: 1865 to Present. Bedford/St. Martins; First Edition, 2008.
2. Faulkner, W. That evening sun. Available at: http://www.shortstory.by.ru/faulkner/eveningsun/index.shtml
3. Fitzgerald, F. S. The Ice Palace. Available at: http://www.sc.edu/fitzgerald/icepalace/icepalace.html

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