The Cost Of War In F. Scott Fitzgerald's 'Editha'

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After the Civil War the US was divided and had significant economic problems, but the country moved forward by embracing innovations that sprung from the industrial revolution. American literature also embraced the progress by introducing themes and characters, such as telling the stories of common middle and lower class people, who were generally ignored before the war. These new literary trends were realism, which focused on everyday life, and naturalism, which focused on how people were controlled by their environments.
One of the most prominent realism writers was William Dean Howells. In his work “Editha”, he wrote about the collateral damage and human cost of war. Howells was strongly anti-war, mainly due to the influence of Leo Tolstoy,
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Scott Fitzgerald wrote about how Dexter Green, the son of immigrant parents, strived to achieve the American Dream. The author’s own mother was the child of Irish immigrants, and he was raised in a middle class family. Dexter’s mother was a lower class immigrant, as Fitzgerald wrote, “His mother’s name had been Krimslich. She was a Bohemian of the peasant class and she had talked broken English to the end of her days” (2155). Although his parents prospered in the new country, they were stigmatized because they were immigrants and had to fight for acceptance. Dexter came to embrace his identity, as described by Fitzgerald when he wrote, “he was better than these men. He was newer and stronger” (2155). Dexter used his formal education and ingenuity to make himself into a successful businessman, while most of his friends simply inherited their wealth. Fitzgerald pointed out how emotional happiness was hard to achieve in a shallow, money-driven society. This was even a problem for Judy, who was rich and beautiful, which was revealed when she said, “I’m more beautiful than anybody else . . . why can’t I be happy?” (2161). While pretty women were objects of male admiration, they frequently found themselves depressed and trapped in unsatisfying

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