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American Literature Semester 2 Exam Notes

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Alan Ackerman

American Literature 250 Final Exam A Lost Lady Willa Cather Plot: Mr. and Mrs. Forrester live In Sweet Water Captain Forester is a retired railway worker Mrs. Forrester is beautiful, 25 years younger than her husband, exceedingly aristocratic, and lady like There are two distinct classes of society in Sweet Water the aristocrats and the homesteaders Beginning of the book there is a scene where a group of boys come to her house and ask if they can fish and have a picnic IVY PETERS is there and he shoots down a woodpecker and cuts its eyes Mrs. Forester and Frank Ellinger are lovers they keep their love a secret Niel is exposed to the fact that Mrs. Forrester drinks she drinks to escape from the reality of her life into her own thoughts while living with the Captain Niel falls in love with Mrs. Forrester for ALL the wrong reasons he is in love with her for her loyalty to the captain, when in reality she is not loyal and the captain is dependent on her, and she only for his aristocratic connections When the captain is out of town sorting bank business, Niel hears Frank Ellingers voice from inside the house and he is outraged Niel is NOT morally offended, but upset that his perfect mental image of Mrs. Forrester is ruined Captain Forrester returns home a ruined man-he is broke- he had to pay people out of his pockets Mr. Forester has a stroke in many realist novels money and health goes hand in hand There is an emphasis on honor the judge despises the new generation of bankers and lawyers because there is changing world order where THE OLD WORLD IS PAYING TO BE REPLACED BY THE NEW ONE Captain is paying the new bankers and lawyers - foreigners that have come to America Part 1 of the lost lady ends with Niels departure to MIT a sense of impending doom the Forresters are financially ruined, and many of the young people are leaving town Subject of the novel changes from OLD WORLD RECLINE NEW WORLD GROWTH The ruin of the Forresters symbolizes the end of regional America transition into a natural world in which people like Ivy Peters hold business interests all across America going towards cold modernity instead of progress there is decline and loss of stability Niel then returns to Sweet Water encounters Ivy Peters on the train and finds out that Ivy has turned the Forrester property into profitable wheat fields Pioneers like the Forresters conquered the lands, but were unable to hold on to them, enabling greedy men like Ivy Peters to come in and take it from them to convert it into profits He drains the marshes to make the wheat fields alludes to draining of the Western spirit Cather points out the satisfaction that Ivy gets in destroying the marshes- raw violence like the first woodpecker scene juxtaposing the Captains care for aesthetic beauty and a world of dreaming Captain has another stroke and Mrs. Forrester is not able to look after him on her own so Niel takes a year off and moves in The sun dial becomes a marker of permanent time as well as permanent death of the pioneering age represents a long gone era the sun dial is the last remnant of the world that captain Forrester inhabited Lecture Notes: There are inverted ideas of progress it is a modernist idea where there is not any progress with the advancing day and age, only decline and loss of stability Turners American Frontier the closing of the frontier how the frontier as officially close and it was the frontier that made America exceptional The frontier is the meeting place between savagery and civilization- promotes democracy and individualism the frontier has created an American type Major themes in the novel LOSS, FALLING, DISTANCE Tensions between realism and romance ALSO IN GATSBY Economic advancements lead to social disintegration cultural evolution Niel is a hamlet time character SIMILAR TO QUENTIN doesnt want things to change, wants everything to stay the same- Niel views history as a time of disaster Everybody falls in this story, the first thing we see happen to Niel is that he falls out of the tree and breaks his arm Marian meets the Captain when she falls from the mountain there is never a single moment of pure innocence a typical American narrative: Im lost and I need to find myself there is a global sense of loss, not only a moral principle- but death and loss as well there is no centre loss of a guiding centre Marian Forrester is part of a lineage of classic American fallen women alongside Hester, Daisy, Lily, Caddy Campson a perfectible nation and how these women shape America why they are so important in the individualist modernizing movement Colour coding the book: NIELs GRAY EYES PAGE 7 the portrayal of Mr. Forrester parallel to Silas Garber Niel is only a point of view, not a fully developed character PAGE 61 ADOLPH BLOOM SCENE Point of view is a crucial aspect in American literature- observer hero narratives PAGE 50 POINT OF VIEW POST-LAPSERIAN world after the fall progressive language PAGE 19 NIEL FALLS The bird is a figure of the lost lady- foreshadows what will happen between himself and Marian PAGE 48 The Great Gatsby Scott F. Fitzgerald Disillusionment of the notion of the American dream Daisy represents the amoral ideals of the aristocracy in East Egg Gatsby sees her as a perfect lady, the paragon of perfection, filled with charm, grace, wealth, aristocracy only his perception POINT OF VIEW Classic observer-hero narrative Niel and Gatsby both want to go back and change something or relive something, that is their dream and it is lost, unattainable, impossible to achieve There is a connection between Niel and the woodpecker, they are both blinded, willful blindness on Niels part, he can see and not see at the same time he ONLY wants to see things that conform his fantasy and dreams Similar mood between GATSBY and A LOST LADY of BEING LOST Nick makes Gatsby GREAT just as Niel makes Marian the LOST lady What is real vs. fake main tension in the book the UNREALITY OF REALITY Gatsbys library- the books have not been cut, therefore have not been red, they have been put there to make a sort of theatre set 1920s period of the rise of the movies and technology importance on visual representation in an inherently materialistic society Nick as the artist not only a character in the novel, but identifies himself as the author and stresses his honesty and credibility- characterizes himself to be highly moral and non- judgemental In reality, artists, namely photographers frame pictures and airbrush things in an attempt to exclude what they do not like they are deceptive like Nick who airbrushes things, corrects them, and likes to clean things up End of the book he wipes the graffiti off and does not share with the readers what the foul words are, he simply erases them and forces his interpretation as TRUTH Cather Niels GRAY eyes gray is the reality of modern industrial America the valley of ashes in Gatsby the material world is intolerable and unjust THE VALLEY OF ASHES AS AN INVERSION OF THE GARDEN OF EDEN Gatsby defines the nature of the American dream and the inability to capture it he comes from nowhere, is a child to unsuccessful farms people and rises from the PLATONIC CONCEPTION OF HIMSELF son of GOD and must be about his fathers business and faithful to himself
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