Realism most often refers to the trend towards depictions of contemporary life and society as they were. In the spirit of general Realism, Realist authors opted for depictions of everyday and bland activities and experiences, instead of a romanticized or similarly stylized presentation.
The industrial revolution that took place at the end of the nineteenth century changed our country in remarkable ways. People left rural homes for opportunities in urban cities. With the development of new machinery and equipment, the U.S. economy became more focused on factory production; Americans did not have to chiefly rely on farming and agriculture to support their families. At the same time, immigrants from all over the world crowded into tenements to take advantage of new urban opportunities. In the end, the sweeping economic, social, and political changes that took place in post-war life allowed American Realism to prevail.
American Realists concentrated their writing on select groups or subjects. Examples of this include the factory workers of Upton Sinclair and Rebecca Harding David, Paul Lawrence Dunbar and Charles Chesnutt's stories of black life, and Kate Chopin's views of marriage and women's roles.
The writing during this period was also very regional. The industrial revolution called for standardization, mass production of goods and streamlined channels of distribution. America was leaping into a new modern age and people feared that local folkways and traditions would be soon forgotten. Responding to these sentiments, realistic writers set their stories in specific American regions, rushing to capture the "local color" before it was lost. They drew upon the sometimes grim realities of everyday...