American Literature 1914-1945

Read pages 3-22 (American Literature 1914-1945), Vol D. Also, go to Course Documents and access the folder titled Modernism Notes. The read the Robert Frost poems “Mending Wall”(232) and “Home Burial”(237). Post 2 paragraphs in the Discussion Forum to the topics listed below(one for each poem).

Frost Topics
“MENDING WALL”
1. Analyze “Mending Wall” in the context of Modernism.
2. Examine “Mending Wall” on both a literal and symbolic level.
3. Contrast the behavior/language/thoughts of the two characters in “Mending Wall.”

“HOME BURIAL”
4. What gender stereotypes are incorporated into “Home Burial”?
5. Analyze the relationship between the husband and wife. How does this type of relationship influence their conflict?
6. Explain the significance of lines 1-16.
7. Explain the significance of lines 48-69.

Modernism Notes

–Writing marked by a strong, conscious break with traditional forms and techniques (style and content).
–Wisdom of the ages not applicable in the modern world.
–Rebellion against tradition, authority; rejection of values of the immediate past, rejection of systemic morality. Challenge of crucial assumptions.
–Loss of traditional foundations of societal stability and order (family, religion, government, etc.)—disillusionment.
–Man stripped of systems of belief, both spiritual and societal; salvation will not be found in external, only in the self.
–A world of relativism. Absolutes toppled, morality dispersed, disdain of certainties.
–Celebrates passion/will over reason and systemic morality.
–Past devoted to answers, but the present is devoted to questions.
–Subjective world view—You can change the world; you can only change yourself.
–Theme of alienation—man mired and emotionally deadened by the “functional rationality” of the industrial age, loss of emotionalism, desensitized—quest for primitive emotionalism in a hollow culture.
–Revel in the density and chaos of the modern world—to live intensely each moment.
–Character is not coherent, well-structured entity but a psychological puzzle.

The Modernist “Hero”
–Individual of action, not talk or theory.
–Rebels against traditional authority, morality.
–Develops a self-willed code of principles/behavior. Self disciplined (heavy drinker but never sloppy drunk)
–Loss of belief in transcendental imperatives and secular values.
–Nothing after death, only the void—focus on this particular life and live each moment to the fullest.
–Grace under pressure. Courage in the face of conflict. Does not fear death but appreciates it for what it is—the loss of life.
–Gratification of sensual desires—physical pleasures are life’s rewards (sex, food, drink, action).
–Rejection of abstract values/propaganda (symbols). Embraces the concrete (people, places, objects) for themselves.

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