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Realism and Naturalism

Realism and Naturalism

1. Stephen Crane's "The Open Boat"

2. Jack London's "To Build a Fire"

3. Essay: "Naturalism in American Literature"

4. MMW assignment:

1. Review London and Crane and find a sample passage from each which illustrates each basic theme of Naturalism:

  • The "brute within" (the internal basic animal and the struggle to maintain a veil of civilization)
  • The indifference of nature (recognition of mankind's isolation and insignificance)
  • The forces of "heredity and environment" (one is affected continuously by his genes or surroundings)
  • A deterministic universe (lack of free will or agency; fate dictates outcomes)

2. HMWK: The plots of works featuring Naturalism often have a noticeable "plot of decline," or a plot that often depicts
a character's progression (or retrogression) toward degeneration or death. Note five major plot shifts in "The Open Boat" or"To Build a Fire.” Each story contains a metaphorical journey, with the protagonists encountering nature and succumbing to its indifferent might. Cite passages from your selected story to represent important steps along the journey, and then chart these steps on a line graph, noting via positioning how the characters' situation improves or declines.  Be sure to also offer explanation as to how each plotted point shows an upward or downward swing. 

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