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Literary Q&A Essay

1078 words - 4 pages

1. According to the lecture notes, a Realist fiction “reflects a conflict with a society threatened with rapid change and a breakdown of traditional values”. (Perkins) A Realist hero would be a person who has seen the worst of what society has to offer within that time period. As a hero, I would believe that even though things are changing quickly, and with this “breakdown of traditional values” (Perkins), they are still strong enough to deal with them and overcome them. Though the definition of a hero was not described in the lecture notes provided, I believe that Aunt Rachel fits the role of a Realist hero perfectly.

In Twain’s story Aunt Rachel is a realist hero because she aligns herself, even without her knowing, to this definition of Realism. Aunt Rachel’s struggles are something Mister C can possibly never relate to, and even as the times of the Civil War changed, from the early days of slavery, to letting her become a cook for the Generals of the Civil War. It was a struggle that was surely to have broken anyone, but as a Realist hero, it seems that Aunt Rachel has risen above them and become what a hero should be.

By definition, a hero is a person of distinguished qualities who is admired for brave deeds. This is not to say that Mister C is not a distinguished man, or has no brave deeds under his belt, but after reading the story, it is safe to assume that Mister C’s struggles in no way compare to Aunt Rachel’s, which is the irony of the story. Mister C is Aunt Rachel’s master, and she is his slave, and yet she is the hero. Mister C reinforces this by being seemingly baffled by her positive and bright attitude. However, though Aunt Rachel keeps her spirit up, she is aware that her life has been a struggle. This fact is reestablished in her final words, “Oh, no, Misto C-, I hadn’t had no trouble. An’ no joy!” (Twain).

2. The correspondent’s quote “The Open Boat” is discussing the disregard nature has for humans, and this is simply because nature cannot control it. The predicament that the correspondent and the other crew members are in is a prime example of how reckless nature can be. His quote goes further, by explaining that man would like to be angry at nature, and to do something about it, by “throwing bricks at the temple” (Klinkowitz and Wallace 1011). Man would like to get back at nature; the crew shipwrecked in the story would like to get their revenge on nature for stranding the, but man cannot.

The quote reflects the men’s situation, because they are shipwrecked, in a small boat and at the mercy of the sea, the wind, the sun, and the cold. Nature is their enemy and their savior, in that it can kill them all, or carry them to the shore safely. This fits in with the naturalist philosophy only partially, because in our lecture notes writers who wrote about Naturalism “often focused on the lowest economic classes” (Perkins). We are unsure of the surviving crew’s economic status. However, their situation...

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