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BJU American Literature Chapter 13 Essay

Shirley Jackson
Born in 1919 and died in 1965. Spent all but the first 14 years of her life in the East. An active writer by the age of 14. During her college years, she published her work in student publications and founded and edited a campus literary magazine. After graduation and marriage, she combined writing with rearing a family. Died at 46 due to heart failure. Her works are meant to entertain. She combined humor, mystery, and suspense to create stories whose endings often surprise their readers. Her fiction falls into 2 categories: (1) The bizarre stories that detail the horror arising from the supernatural or from emotional and mental disturbance and (2) the humorous stories that were suggested by her family experiences.
“Charles”
Written by Shirley Jackson. The plot and character traits are revealed almost entirely through conversation. This adds realism to the story. This work builds up suspense by having Laurie tell his parents what Charles does.
Richard Connell
Born in 1893 and died in 1949. He was a writer from early on in life. Did much writing for various people throughout his life. Wrote much in the short-story genre. His most famous work is “The Most Dangerous Game.”
“The Most Dangerous Game”
Written by Richard Connell. A good example of suspense. As in the stories of Edgar Allen Poe, the outcome is not determined until the final paragraph. Primarily a romantic thriller, but also has a serious theme. It is a conflict between the Old World and the New World. Primarily a conflict of man vs. man (Rainsford vs. General Zaroff). Also a conflict of man vs. nature (Rainsford vs. nature in his bid to escape) and man vs. himself (Rainsford vs. his own fatigue). The opening scene foreshadows the rest of the story in 4 ways: (1) It reveals the contrasting attitudes of hunting. Rainsford does not care how hunted animals feel. (2) It reveals contrasting reactions to the sailors’ fear of Ship-Trap Island. (3) It provides an ironic element. Rainsford states that the world is divided into hunters and hunted. Ironically, the hunter becomes the hunted. (4) The details create an aura of fear. Rainsford’s actions are left morally ambiguous.
James Thurber
Born in 1894 and died in 1961. Partially blind from a childhood accident. Clearly saw the fear and pretense of modern man. Began writing seriously in Ohio State university. Joined the staff of the New Yorker in 1927. Published his first book of cartoons in 1931. His best works were in the last decade of his life. He died after emergency surgery for a blood clot in his brain. Primarily humorous, but his humor can often be dark and bitter. In his typical stories, the main character is baffled or even terrified at life. In his stories about unhappy marriages, an overbearing woman dominates a weaker man. Rarely do these characters triumph.
“The Catbird Seat”
Written by James Thurber. The humor grows out Mr. Martin’s actual activity and what he is considering. The central conflict is between Mr. Martin and Mrs. Ulgine Barrows. Another conflict is between Martin’s inner conflict. Mr. Martin does not see his idea as wrong. He is simply rubbing out an error. This short-story is a warning to all of the Mrs. Ulgine Barrowses in the world. If they push the Mr. Martins of the world, the Mr. Martins will rise up and destroy the Mrs. Ulgine Barrowses.
Archibald Rutledge
Born in 1883 and died in 1973. Born in South Carolina in a house built in 1730 on property owned by the family since 1686. Left South Carolina in 1904, and for a short while worked as a newspaperman in Washington, D.C. Appointed poet laureate of his native state by its governor. Wrote of the Old South.
“The Tomb of Raven McCloud”
Written by Archibald Rutledge. The protagonist Issac McCoy represents the Old South and the antagonist Dandy Davis represents civilization. McCoy must actively resist Davis, but leaves the result to Providence. Providence does not fail him.
Eudora Welty
Born in 1909 and died in 2001. Born in Jackson, Mississippi. Came to national attention with her first short story, “Death of a Traveling Salesman.” Published a collection of short stories (A Curtain of Green) 5 years later. Received a Pulitzer Prize in 1973 for her novel The Optimist’s Daughter (1972). Her stories and novels communicate a powerful sense of place, particularly of local tradition and culture. Her characters are delicate studies of strength and weakness, of pettiness, and magnanimity.
“A Worn Path”
Written by Eudora Welty. At its heart, “A Worn Path” is a tale of undying love and devotion that pushes us toward a goal. The protagonist’s name Phoenix Jackson gives us clues regarding her personality. Her first name indicates her firm will. She rises again with every fall. Her last name indicates her location. She is from Jackson, Mississippi, and her personality reflects such.
Ernest Hemingway
Born in 1899 and died in 1961. Born in a well-to-do Chicago family. Enjoyed big game hunting and sports. Tried to join the Army after graduating from high school but was rejected due to an eye injury incurred from boxing. Became a reporter for the Kansas City Star. Where he learned “the best rules . . . for writing.” Joined the Red Cross ambulance corps and was sent to Europe. Here he was seriously injured by shrapnel but was able to carry a wounded Italian soldier back to a first-aid station. The Italian government awarded him a medal for valor and allowed to fight for the remainder of WW1. This author gained material to write his book A Farewell to Arms. Married Hadley Richardson in 1921. Joined the American expatriates in Paris. His published boo, Three Stories and Ten Poems, was privately printed in 1923. His first major novel, The Sun Also Rises became a best seller. Divorced his wife in 1927 and married Pauline Pfeiffer. Moved to Key West, Florida. His last years were marked by heavy drinking, an indulgent lifestyle, and an increasing toll from his physical injuries. Committed suicide on 7/2/1961. His writing is most distinguishable is his crisp and clean language. His sentences are short and free of all adverbs and adjectives. His heroes are people who have to cope with a meaningless world. His definition of morality is that whatever makes a person feel good is right, and whatever makes a person feel bad is wrong.
“Big Two-Hearted River”
Written by Ernest Hemingway. This story is written at the end of In Our Time (1925). The protagonist Nick Adams has returned from WW1 and is trying to recuperate from physical and emotional injuries incurred from the war. His return, alone, to the Upper Peninsula is a return to an important site from his childhood. Nick, like the story itself, seems to empty. The story is divided into 2 parts. In part 1 Nick arrives arrives at the burned-over town of Seney. Both the town and the forest have burned over. Nick walks across the blackened plain to the river and sets up camp. As part 2 begins, Nick is reader for his first day of solitary fishing. In this story, Nick seeks healing from nature.
August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains
Written by Ray Bradbury. This was a collection of loosely connected short stories which follows a “future history” of Earth and Mars. Earthlings leave the troubled planet and colonize Mars, where they come into conflict with native Martians. This short story is near the end of the book. Only a few isolated Earthlings are left on Mars. This story focuses on a mechanized house that continues it functions despite being devoid of life. This scene implies the emptiness of man’s modern technological advances and the inability of technology to meet the real needs of man. The houses diary-like narration contributes to the artificial, sterile environment. The invisible “radioactive glow” symbolizes that thought that man’s technology produces only death and destruction. The fire scene represents man’s inevitable self-destruction. The house tries to put out the fire, but, after finding that it cannot, finally gives in and is destroyed. Life is still there. This story can be seen as a satire rather than just science-fiction because of its teaching.
Rad Bradbury
Born in 1920 and died in 2012. Began his writing career in high school. Sold his first science fiction short story. Became a full-time writer two years later. Best known for his fantasy and science fiction. His work often expresses his fears about the future. His writing tends to be didactic and pessimistic.
Thornton Wilder
Born in 1897 and died in 1975. The son of a consular officer who was a devout Congregationalist. Had a diverse education. Served in the artillery in WW1 and as an intelligence officer in WW2. His first published works were novels. His second novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey won a Pulitzer Prize. His greatest works were plays. Some of his plays were nonillusionment. In these plays, the character directly addresses the audience. The characters do not pretend to be in real life. While his works are not explicitly Christian, they are traditional. He preferred his works to be persuasive through beauty, not didactic.
The Happy Journey to Trenton and Camden
Written by Thornton Wilder. This is an early experiment in the nonrealistic staging technique. The drama transcends localization by dealing with the universal conflict of man versus sorrow and death. The humorous treatment of daily familial problems give a breath of fresh air.
Jesse Stuart
Born in 1907 and died in 1984. Born in Kentucky mountains to a poor, uneducated family of English and Scottish people. Received a high school education and a teacher’s degree from Lincoln Memorial University. Had to write, raise sheep, and lecture in order to survive.
The Thread That Runs So True
Written by Jesse Stuart. An autobiographical account of Stuart’s teaching experiences. Calls the reader to the outdoor world of the Appalachians. This account states that students will emulate the teacher. If the teacher inspires the student to do great things, the students will do great things. After being inspired, the students take on the challenge with enthusiasm. After the victory, they respond with meekness.
James Saxon Childers
Born in 1899 and died in 1965. Born in Birmingham, Alabama, this man became a critic, author, publisher, and teacher. His student days were spent at Oberlin College (Ohio) and later as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University. Although he workd for a time as the literary editor of the Birmingham News, he devoted most of his time to teaching English at Birmingham Southern College.
A Boy Who Was Traded for a Horse
Written by James Saxon Childers. This story is meant to show the power of education. Education, according to Childers, brought Carver to his prominence. There is also some humor in the contrast between what Childers expects and what he actually sees. Childers uses his own meeting with Carver.
Bruce Catton
Born in 1899 and died in 1978. Enjoyed a distinguished career. Entered government service in 1942. During his time in Washington, he contributed book reviews. Had a keen interest in the Civil War since boyhood and eventually wrote a history about the Civil War. His book A Stillness at Appomattox (1952) gained a Pulitzer Prize. Became an editor at the American Heritage and eventually became senior editor.
The Great American Game
Written by Bruce Catton. This essay is a history of both baseball and a study of American society. Catton uses baseball to reveal several facts about America’s fundamental traits as a society. Although his organization seems artless, he follows the argumentative strategy of supporting generalizations with illustrative details. Uses anecdotal examples and explanations of unfamiliar terms in order to keep the reader interested. Catton states his thesis, makes a skeleton defense, then uses the rest of the essay to develop the defense.
James B. Stockdale
Born in 1923 and died in 2005. Graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1946 and became a career officer in the navy. In 1962, he received a maser’s degree from Stanford University. Spent 8 years as a POW in Vietnam. Became a vice admiral in 1977. Served as president of the naval Was College and The Citadel.
Freedom: Our Most Precious National Treasure
Written by James B. Stockdale. This work details James B. Stockdale’s imprisonment in Vietnam. The essay has a conversational tone. States that freedom, which is found in the human soul, is the most precious national treasure and encourages the reader to protect it.

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