Literature 1865-1912

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Literature and Social Reality

Sherra Weldon

University of Phoenix

Literature and Social Reality
There were many social forces that influenced literature from 1865 to 1912. The most relevant social force was the growing divide in economic and social status. Numerous events occurred during this period that influenced the divide. One of the first and possibly the most influential, the Civil War. According to Reesman and Krupat (2008):

The Civil War, which began in 1861 and lasted for four years, was the ultimate result of economic, political, social, and cultural divisions between the North and South - above all the division between an economy and a way of life based on wage labor and one based on slavery (pg. 1). Following the Civil War there were many changes happening throughout the country. Not only was the country recovering from the money lost because of the war, but also many families were grieving the loss of loved ones as well as trying to reestablish their homesteads.

Following the war the rich kept getting richer and the poor continued to struggle and grow poorer or deeper in debt. The railroad was making vast expansions toward the West that was a pro and a con to rural farmers. The farmers needed the railroad to expand to transport their goods, but at the same time farmers were suffering because the railroad was claiming so much of the land they needed to produce their crops and raise their animals (Reesman & Krupat, 2008, pg. 3). The railroad expansion was led by four main railroads that shut out others from the expansion.

The Homestead Act of 1862 was created to enable people to get free or cheap acreages. Every individual or family was promised an acreage who would not only settle, but also improve the land according to the government’s regulations. However, most of the land that was available was donated to railroads to continue the expansion and continue growth West. It is estimated...
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