The Influence Of History On American Literature

1508 words - 6 pages

“A Tale Intended to be After the Fact…” is how Stephan Crane introduced his harrowing story, “The Open Boat,” but this statement also shows that history influences American Literature. Throughout history, there has been a connection among literary works from different periods. The connection is that History, current events, and social events have influenced American Literature. Authors, their literary works, and the specific writing styles; are affected and influenced by the world around them. Authors have long used experiences they have lived through and/or taken out of history to help shape and express in their works. Writing styles are also affected by the current trends and opinions of the period they represent. By reading American Literature, we have seen the inhumane treatment of slaves, we have seen the destruction caused by wars, and we have seen the devastation of eras such as The Great Depression.
In order to see how cultural and historical situations affect literature throughout history, it is important to get a brief history on each era discussed in this paper. The first era we will be reviewing will be writings from 1865-1914. The Civil War was just ending in 1865. America lost over a half of million Americans in the war. The nation was in a state of disorder and the south was devastated. Nevertheless, the country prospered. America became industrialized and saw innovations such as; the railroads, telegraph, telephone, and electricity. The population of the United States had also started to increase due to immigration.
Between the years of 1865 and 1914, American literature was mainly comprised of three writing styles: realism, regionalism, and naturalism. Realism aims to portray life realistically. Though realism’s subject matter concentrated on the middle class, it showed the concerns and commonplace events of its time period. Regionalism and local color writings are each specific types of Realism. They worked to record a distinctive way of life. Regionalism often showed regional dialect, food, clothing styles and customs of that time period. Naturalism, like realism, works to accurately portray its subject matter, but naturalism also works to find the scientific theory. Each of these writing styles have characteristics that make them stand out from one another but they all seem to also have a common link of showing life realistically of that time period.
It is easy to see that current events and issues of the world around them have had an impact on authors and what they have written from the stories in this time period. The Native American authors wrote stories describing life during and after white man came to America. We read Oratory’s by two Native American’s COCHISE and CHARLOT. They gave heart-wrenching speeches, giving great details into the history of the tribes and the devastating effect the white man had on them. Author Zitkala Sa gave us a powerful interpretation of her life as a Indian and how the white’s coming...

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