Naturalism is an ongoing literary movement that has been apparent since the 1900’s. It depicts how the environment, social conditions, and even hereditary characteristics influence and shape the way a human character will develop. It is believed that there is no escaping this realism, and each situation one experiences is what will establish the route of life that they will partake. A short story called “My Antonia”, written by Willa Cather is merely categorized with Realism and Naturalism, though it is evident that several aspects portray supernatural occurrences. The specific characters throughout these excerpts show the reflection of Naturalism by experiencing struggles of deprivation which resulted in their lives being shaped by dissimilarity, and ethnic tensions. In somewhat of contrast another short story called “Long Journeys into Night” written by Eugene O’Neill, is a literary story which specifically relates to Naturalism, whereas My Antonia has more so of supernatural tendencies. The following paragraphs will show in depth the ways in which both short stories either reflect or do not reflect the idea of Naturalism, and in how they both can be compared and contrasted.
In My Antonia, as mentioned there are numerous supernatural episodes that occur. Jim Burden, being one of the main characters is hampered with the fact that he senses the presence of Mr. Shimerda (who is a man that recently killed himself) as he is left home alone for his very first time as an adolescence. “Surely his exhausted spirit…was resting now in this quiet house…I was not frightened…I did not wish to disturb him…It was as if I had let the old man in out of the tormenting winter, and were sitting there with him” (Cather 1269). This quote is to verify that although this short story is based on Naturalism, that it still has its supernatural aspects of Jim continually being haunted by Mr. Shimerda’s spirits, and how he recurrently visits his grave. Considering Jim Burden’s...
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