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American Literature

American Literature

Discuss the qualities of Hemingway’s story that fit in to the book’s discussion (handouts are posted in
Eagle Online) of American literature between 1914 and 1945. Do the same with James’s story for
literature between 1865 and 1914. Write two paragraphs, each about 300 words long. Each paragraph
should have a topic sentence that captures your overall idea and each paragraph should quote from both
the textbook discussions and the stories.
Modernism, dialogue in Hemmingway’s story in connection with American literature

between 1914-1945

American literature between 1914-1945 is understood as modernism; literature produced
during the interwar period dealing with the contemporary world. Modernism is particularly the
literary “work which represents the transformation of traditional society under pressures of
modernity, and in so doing breaks down the conventional, long-established literary forms”
(1184). Ernest Hemmingway’s Hills Like White Elephants story is basically about abortion; a
major issue of the contemporary world during the interwar period. By covering the subject of
abortion in the story, Hemmingway illustrates the transformation of traditional society under the
pressures of modernity considering that abortion was beginning to become a more popular
subject in the American society which was modernizing fast during the interwar period. Many
things in the story suggest that the American man certainly wants the girl to abort. Even when he
claims that he wants the girl to abort only if she really wants to do it, the reader questions the
man’s honesty and sincerity. He is not convincing when he says “I would not have you do it if
you did not want to” (Hemmingway 2).
Readers of this novella are not actually told how the American and the girl arrived at their
current condition, or how these two are going to solve the conflict they are in. The tragic as well

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as comic aspects in this novella indicate how ideas actually function in the narrative, as well as
how modernism has changed the ideas themselves – comedy is originated from the fertility
rituals of springs while tragedy is originated from sterility and death. The girl and the man are at
the edge between tragic and comic considering that they are at an instant of decision which
would push them either way.
The author has largely used dialogue in the story demonstrating that dialogue alone is
able to carry a story considering that the story is virtually completely dialogue. Hills Like White
Elephants, in essence, does not tell a narrative using the traditional manner since it does not have
a plot. The reader needs to be exceptionally perceptive to understand that the girl and the
American man are in fact arguing about the girl procuring an abortion at a period when
termination of pregnancy was totally unlawful, normally dangerous and regarded as morally
American Girl, Realism in Daisy Miller’s connection with the American Literature 1865-


In the discussion book American literature 1865-1914, it is stated that “several of the
most critically appraised American writers during this period recorded life in European resorts
and capitals, in the small town, village and chaotic metropolis” (5). This is evident in Henry
James’ Daisy Miller novella in which one of the settings is a European resort: Vevey in
Switzerland. The first paragraph starts “at the small town on Vevey, in Switzerland, there is a
hotel which is especially comfortable” (James 1).
The author of the American literature 1865-1914 also states that “these writers created
the literary uniqueness of characteristically American protagonist, particularly the American Girl

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and the vernacular boy hero, the businessman, the strained and baffled middle-class family, as
well as the psychologically complex citizens of a new global culture” (5). This is also evident in
James’ Daisy Miller in which the American Girl Daisy Miller appears as the protagonist of the
short story: “Here comes the American girl” (James 5), “Her name is Daisy Miller” (James 6). In
the American Literature 1865-1914, it is also stated that literature in England, Europe and
America were typified by realism, in which “realists essentially attempted to record life the way
it was lived instead of life as it was supposed to be lived” (James 6). In Daisy Miller, James
Henry has employed realism as he sought to convince readers of the short story that life of the
characters in the story is true to ordinary people in recognizable surroundings.
The Daisy Miller story by Henry James essentially focuses on the conflict between
American and European culture. Winterbourne’s dexterous and intricate portrayal is seen as
important for the reader to understand the tension between new and old, America and Europe,
individuality and conventionality, as well as reality and appearance in the story. The originality,
psychologically complex characters, and stylistic distinction of Daisy Miller make the reader to
consider the author of this novella as a subtle craftsman who adeptly reflected the late 19 th
century concern with social behavior and morality.

Works cited

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Hemmingway, Ernest. Hills Like White Elephants. n.d. Print.
James, Henry. Daisy Miller. 1879. Print

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