American Literature Of The Twentieth Century

1366 words - 5 pages

The country as it was in the early part of the twentieth century was shaped toward regenerating and recovering from World War I, the Great Depression, and a lot of other socially-crippling disruptions that were forever altering the United States in a lot of different ways. Some of the changes were good, and others were not so good. The spirit of loyalty and patriotism were alive and thriving in the air and in everyone's hearts, and the literature of that time greatly reflects the influence that this surge of patriotism brought upon the American peoples.

Regionalism and the regional consciousness that came along with it is reflected greatly in many of the works in which we have read. Most all of the authors, including the poets, that we studied touched on a lot of the same subjects which we reflect upon in thinking about our heritage and out nation's history, and how that history has helped to shape the country that we have today. Two of the main social values that were visibly touched upon were loyalty and our ability to be able to selflessly sacrifice something that meant a lot to the characters in the works, whether that be a sense of self, a lover, and so on and so forth. W. D. Howells short story "Editha" is a very clear representation of the idea of loyalty, while encompassing all of the things that represent the concept of regionalism at its finest. The main character Editha pressures her love George into fighting in a war which neither he nor anyone in his family deems right and just, but swept up in the furor of the region which Editha was living in. "…contemporaneous with the growth of the war feeling, she had been puzzled by his want of seriousness about it. He seemed to despise it even more than he abhorred it." This quote shows the pressures that were placed upon George by her to believe in something that she believed in. She so desperately wanted him to follow her thinking on the matter (which was grossly misshapen by the people in the town) and be happy about joining the war effort, and George could not do that, for that was not his ideal belief. George sacrificed all that he believed in on a whim in a drunken stupor, and it cost him the ultimate sacrifice: his life. Ambrose Bierce's short story "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" also reflects the notions of loyalty to a cause and to yourself and sacrifice. Peyton Farquhar also was feeling like he was forced to take part in something that he did not truly want to do. He did not want to abide by the rules, he chose to go against the grain, against the government and break those rules, and he also paid the ultimate sacrifice of his life and his spirit. Though he was loyal to his family, he had to do what he had to do and he sacrifice a lifetime of memories with them because of that. The quote "Suppose a man-a civilian and student of hanging- should elude the picket post and perhaps get the better of the sentinel," said Farquhar smiling, "what could he...

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