Understanding Modernist Writing Essay

1300 words - 5 pages

Around 1906, modernist writing was used, but did not yet have a name. James Joyce was the first person to write in a modernist way. It was not until later that the name modernism was established. It was mainly involved with language and how it is used. Modernism is known as a result of the struggle families went through during a certain period of time. Many other authors use modernism in a similar way. To fully understand modernist poetry, a definition and a break down is needed.
Modernism is better known as a reflection of historical events. During the time period of 1890-1910, many issues came about in society. Over these twenty years, Americans had massive amounts of change. For example, World War I was beginning and the Industrial Revolution was escalating. It was also the period when cars appeared and there were also massive cultural shifts. For example, John Steinbeck writes about Americans fleeing to California in search of jobs in the novel The Grapes of Wrath.
Under a combination of historical pressure such as these, writers came to respect literature as an explanation for an individual life. Modern assembly lines emerged, producing material in mass amounts. Although less educated individuals were able to get jobs, they were treated very poorly. This period reduced the population’s self-confidence severely. Essentially citizens moved down in the ranks between 1890-1910.
Modernist writing is known for being hard to comprehend. John Steinbeck is content with people not understanding his books. For example, The Grapes of Wrath is confusing because he claims it is “A book about the public, not for the public”. (Steinbeck 128) He writes about events that happened to the citizens in depth. Steinbeck is reacting to the Dustbowl and the journey to the west in search of a better lifestyle. The Dustbowl and the Depression occurred in the 1930s. Throughout this period, society and population has increased along with their relation to physical objects. This is unusual because the public is normally more emotionally involved with other people. Two examples can be family and friends. Steinbeck relates these two ideas as if one could take the place of the other. The population defined the common person by what they own. An example of this can be a valuable possession. During the Depression people had nothing to eat and jobs were not available. Supporting a family became nearly impossible. At this point, it was survival of the fittest, also known as social Darwinism.
Social Darwinism is a belief which states that the strongest or fittest should survive and thrive in society. Likewise, the weak and unfit normally would wither away. When Steinbeck compares humans to bugs in The Grapes of Wrath, it gives the reader an image of swarming objects without any place to go. It also clarifies humans as unimportant and an insect. Steinbeck captures the sense of social Darwinism in The Grapes of Wrath.
Another writer that is well known for being...

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