american lit II study

american lit II study - Contexts for American Literature...

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Contexts for American Literature (89-112)  Poor vs Wealthy Measured by what was euphemistically called “ industrial unrest,” that is, high numbers of strikes, lockouts, riots, and outbreaks of violence, many of which resulted in martial law declarations, those years were in fact, arguably, the most threatening to national order of any since the Civil War. (caused by high unemployment) Woodrow Wilson used empirical data 1. Industrial relations (employers control employees) 2. Hazardous conditions 3. Infant mortality 4. Underfed children 5. School dropouts (rags to riches) Significant numbers of Americans believed, and would continue to believe, that poverty was self-created, that the poor were lazy, immoral, unfit, alcohol-dependent, and resistant to work. That is, according to this way of thinking, the poor were to blame for their poverty; they were victims of their own bad behavior. However, using empirical data, the Industrial Relations Commission reported that in reality the poor were people who worked long hours under sometimes brutal conditions but were not paid enough to make ends meet. Daisy Miller Theme: Neglected children In the fiction by James that has become standard, such as his novella Daisy Miller: A Study (1879), the failure of a young girl’s family to properly nurture her and her resulting misbehavior are the main issues. In Daisy Miller , the young, beautiful Daisy, accompanied by her mother and younger brother, is on a European tour and staying in places occupied for the most part by Europeanized expatriate Americans who maintain a strict code of conduct. Daisy’s family is presented as horrifyingly vulgar. Her father, Ezra B. Miller, is a rich businessman in the small factory city of Schenectady, N.Y. Her mother does not sleep much, suffers from a liver ailment and from dyspepsia (that is, indigestion caused by an unhealthy diet), and is “dreadfully nervous.” The father and brother Randolph also suffer from dyspepsia. Randolph, a child of nine or ten, speaks in almost pure slang and has already absorbed the very American opinion that America is “the best” at everything. He is allowed to wander around, day and night. He has already lost all but seven of his teeth as a result of gum disease or his addiction to sugar. He is described as an “urchin” by the narrator, an odd word to use to describe an upper-class child because it denotes a child of the streets who has no family. But it is appropriate because, in fact, Randolph is a neglected child, a de facto urchin. His mother does no effective parenting, no nurturing. Daisy is also a neglected child. Her mother has not taught her how to speak, how to dress, how to behave with restraint, or how to avoid giving pain to others. Somewhere, of course, she has learned to believe that her opinions matter, that she is the equal of more experienced and
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knowledgeable people, and that she should follow her inclinations and urges. Daisy’s behavior horrifies most of the people with whom she comes into contact and causes a great deal of
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This note was uploaded on 06/24/2011 for the course ENG 2302 taught by Professor Srimatimukherjee during the Spring '10 term at Temple.

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american lit II study - Contexts for American Literature...

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