American Realism

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Ryan McMillan

Mr. Ealy Block 2

February 28, 2008

The Faithful Representation Of Reality
Realism is a writing style that depicts all of the common, ordinary aspects of life. While Romanticism was enormously popular and influential in the mid 19th century, bitterness from The Great Depression inspired authors to produce stories with characters and plots consistent with the common person’s feelings of poverty and despair. Realists felt that literature had an ethical obligation to present life in all of its doubtful and complex forms; rather than depicting a story with a twisted and fantastical plot. John Steinbeck is one notable author from the realist genre. Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men demonstrates the vulnerability of people who suffer in periods of political unrest and economic depression through his characters and plot schemes. The whole concept of this specific literary genre is “dependent upon a theory of a common vision” (Fremon 65). This idea compels the reader to indulge in a subjective experience while reading the text. Rather than just reading the words on the page, the author’s primary goal is to have the audience emotionally and personally connect with the story being told. The Great Depression was an era that brought about an especially negative facet of realism, being that the majority of Americans had become “companions with poverty and economic hardship” (Smith 13). The majority of the characters in John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men wander around searching for hope when ultimately there is none to be found. Lennie is the most innocent and hopeful of all the men on the ranch, but Crooks attempts to destroy his optimistic outlook by stating, “Nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land" (Steinbeck 74). This statement has the effect to pull the reader away from believing that there might be a positive twist to life, which is the ultimate result a realistic writer attempts to achieve. It is evident from the beginning...
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