Literature and Social Reality

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Literature and Social Reality
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ENG/492
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In this paper I will discuss and analyze the social forces of immigration and industrialization that shape literature during the period of 1865 to 1912. I will describe the major literary movements of the period. Additionally I will explain how Realism and Naturalism influenced the literature of the period, how immigration and industrialization contributed to the influences. I will illustrate using examples from some of the greatest authors of the period. Immigration and Industrialization

The United States’ population grew quickly in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Baym (2008) et al. write that there were 38.5 million people in 1870 and had grown to 92 million in 1910. This growth resulted mostly from immigration. People came from countries all over the world but predominantly from European and Asian nations. Immigration was also the major cause for urbanization in the United States according to Baym et al. (2008) with a dramatic proportional shift from a mostly rural population to a larger city population. Simultaneously with this mass immigration industrialization was happening creating an abundance of factory jobs and building immense wealth for some while also creating dramatic divides in society. Baym et al. (2008) describe the situation: “Long-settled white Americans faced newly arrived white people across divides of power, income, and privilege – worker against owner, farm against city, immigrant against native-born, leading to suspicion and social turbulence on a scale that the nation had not seen” (p. 3). The consequences were labor struggles resulting from terrible working conditions. Immigration brought an abundance of workers resulting in low wages as well as “inhumane and dangerous working conditions” (Baym et al. 2008, p. 3). Conflict also arose from farmers being pushed off their land by the railroads and competition between native-born citizens and immigrants....
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