Analysis for Characteristics of Social Protest Literature
Social protest literature is rooted in 18th century literature that addressed social problems, but which, more often than not, did not present a solution. Protest literature of this nature became most prominent in the mid-20th century, after the Japanese forfeit of World War II and ranged from the Vietnam and Cold War through hippy and civil rights movements and still continues today. The extent of topics discussed in this era of literature cover a wide variety of topics ranging from the mentally disabled to technology’s effect on nature to the implications of weapons of mass destruction. “Average Waves in Unprotected Waters” by Anne Tyler, “Traveling Through the Dark” by William Stafford, and Hiroshima by John Hersey discusses all three of the aforementioned topics respectively. Key factors of these social protest texts are the inclusion of a set of characteristics that act as the deliverers of the main theme in a text of this type. Contained in these three works are elements of social protest literature that include direct and indirect characterization, the use of foreshadowing and suspense, tone, symbolism, the use of setting, implied theme, and objective and subjective perspectives.
“Average Waves in Unprotected Waters” by Anne Tyler is a prime example of social protest literature through its heavy use of indirect characterization, foreshadowing, and suspense. “Arnold went on looking at the ceiling, but his gaze turned wild and she knew he’d heard” (Tyler 1063). Arnold’s character is a severely mentally challenged child, but rather than telling this information to the reader directly, Tyler reveals this through Arnold’s actions and responses; his constantly absent expression and his, often violent, abnormally induced fits. In the first paragraph of Tyler’s short story, she writes, “As soon as it got light, Bet woke him and dressed him, and then she walked him over to the table and tried to...
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