Moral Struggle. It Traces American Theme Of Moral Struggle Through Modernism, Citing Jd Salinger's The Catcher In The Rye, And Through Realism With Wd Howells's Editha.

1727 words - 7 pages

Several themes are found throughout history in American Literature. American authors, over time, have written about a hugely diverse pool of topics and issues, but they all seem to stick to similar themes. A theme is an underlying meaning in a serious work of literature, such as moral struggle, individualism, the unknown, the American dream, or coming of age. An author's perspective often influences the theme of a story. The time period it took place and the surrounding society also has an affect on the theme. Moral struggle is the most popular theme written about over time. By comparing this idea throughout the literary eras, authors, historical events, and society, it will be apparent that modern American authors of the 21st century still have the same views as the early settlers of the New World.The Catcher in the Rye, written by JD Salinger is a classic example of a moral struggle. Salinger was born in NY, NY in 1919. He was a sergeant in WWII and was a witness to the horrible events on D-Day in Normandy on June 6, 1944. He began his work on The Catcher in the Rye in 1941 and after many re-writes and revisions published on June 6, 1951. The book was an instant success. Salinger did not want the fame and publicity that came along with his great work.The events that took place during this time period, such as WWII, shaped the views of modernism authors. As a participant of the modernism period of literature, Salinger wrote his works according to this style. The term modernism refers to the shift in aesthetic and cultural sensibilities in the literature of the post-World War One period. Modernism marks a distinctive break from nineteenth-century optimism, and presents a profoundly pessimistic picture of culture. Salinger displays this view in his book. Holden, the protagonist, has a very pessimistic view of the world and this blinds his outlook on life.Also a characteristic of the modernism period is fragmentation: loneliness and alienation. Holden finds himself alone and alienated from society through the majority of the story. Another characteristic of the modernism period is that the views of America are clearer and more defined and independent. Salinger places his story among the streets of New York and the club with live jazz music and the hotel with prostitutes. Salinger writes in a style truly original to the modernism period of literature.Holden experiences moral struggle in The Catcher in the Rye. He has a tough time determining what is right. Holden is kicked out of school because he is failing all but one of his classes. He then deals with some tough questions: should he go straight to his parents and confess his wrongdoings? Or should he stay in New York and enjoy himself? His immaturity and unwillingness to grow up slow his journey in answering these questions. Holden's messed up view of the world and negative thinking patterns hinder his ability to make the right decision.Editha, a work by WD Howells, also represents the theme of...

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