A Movement of Hope

The act of one can send a set of chain reactions through the minds of others who do the same to even bigger population. When times of humanity become hard and rough going, people have a tendency to blame someone or something in order to answer the reason on why it occurred so. During the Great Depression, James T. Farrell influenced many American citizens through writing stories about the abhorrent degradation in human experience, which substantially impacted the literary movement of naturalism on others of the time. Farrell wrote many essays, short stories, and playwrights, but most of all wrote the famous trilogy Studs Lonigan to change the thoughts of his fellow Americans and foreign allies. Many other authors indeed wrote in the same reasoning method he did, multiplying naturalism’s popularity amongst the States. The Great Depression was a time of confusion and crisis in which formed naturalism as the most popular movement of the decade.

The author James T. Farrell was influenced by naturalism. Naturalism is a philosophical perspective according to which all matter results from biological assets and roots. Paranormal and/or religious justifications are excluded from the author’s works. James T. Farrell used the movement of naturalism in his works to help accept the traumatic time period he and many other authors endured. The Great Depression was a severe, universal economic decline foregoing World War II which affected various peoples around the world, and in this case, the United States. By accepting these harsh conditions, the readers and he are able to answer the question as to why these awful events took place. And the answer happens to be that there is no answer. Through Farrell’s writing, there is a hidden aspect underneath the main plotline, which lays this answer to this essential question: there is no reason for many of the occurrences that the people of the Great Depression underwent. And from that, there can most certainly be a light at the end of the tunnel. Its name is hope.

A bird or said otherwise as a symbol of the light for the spirit of hope, beauty, and transcendance.

James T. Farrell wrote novels about fictional experiences plausibly similar to those of the citizens’ during the Great Depression. However, underneath his plotlines lies a greater meaning to the entire story, which is that things do not happen for a reason. Studs Lonigan, a novel written by Farrell in 1932, narrates the life of a boy living in Chicago during the era of the Great Depression. The details in this famous novel describe the many obscene situations Studs finds himself forced to endure. At the beginning of the first novel, Studs is an adventurous, good-spirited teenage boy first starting his career and adulthood. However, when the stock markets crash and the Great Depression hit the United States, the amount of job available dwindle to an all-time low. Studs slowly becomes a poor, desperate man in the need of a job and a family. Whatever money he earns, he wastes by using it on alcohol and quickly relies on it too much as a support for life and becomes a cynical alcoholic. The book describes many of Studs other experiences in his life such as prostitutes, masturbation, homosexuality, and rape. Upon returning to his family after many years, he returns to his family and earns a low pay living, but eventually slows upon his drinking. Studs has a realization that he will never endure love such as this. At the end, he has a hopeful future that is inferred from his change in thought and action that adds to the bigger meaning.

Up until then, the motives for obscenity were scarcely seen and very likely to have purposely been hidden from the public eye. This novel even took a fair beating once finally published. New York City’s police departments started harassing Vanguard Press and their bookstores from connections between a violent murder case and the novel. However, once just barely accepted during the modern world of The Depression, lower class citizens began connecting the dots between their lives and the novel’s vast plotline. The massive majority of underprivileged people during the time finally began to accept the big picture in which that the demanding times of the decade had no specific reason for itself along with that the people learned they could share their trying occurrences with the world without irrational judgment. This happening which people of all ethnicities and social status faced turned out to be the discovery of naturalism at its finest; meaning that throughout naturalism’s history, an abundant amount of writers used its natural ability to share the writer’s knowledge of the why and how of the world. But due to the tragic time period, many a people needed naturalism to answer more of these difficult questions. And Studs Lonigan adequately represents this movement and time for those particular reasons.

A girl looking for this abstract thing, hiding away in the ruins in some foreign, dismantled building.

Obviously, James T. Farrell was not the only author to practice the art of naturalism during its main successful years. Other profoundly famous authors that practiced the art were John Steinbeck and Jack London. Naturalism is wide spread subject that could be interpreted differently. This being true, these legendary writers both compare and contrast quite easily in their attempt to conceal a bigger meaning behind the visibly dull, printed words upon the pages: hope. In the novel, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, a poor family of sharecroppers endure one too many a hardship and are forced to give up their precious homeland in Oklahoma to move to California for a better future. Sadly, this unfortunate family also endure the economic hardship as well as many others searching so desperately for jobs and are nearly hopeless in the attempt to keep on striving forward. Steinbeck’s novel sets place in a completely different setting from Farrell’s street-born Studs Lonigan, but both similarly start with a misguided, unfortunate character enduring the worst pressures of the time period. However, the underlying meaning in Steinbeck’s book is that there is hope for a new beginning. Rose, who is the daughter to Sharon, loses a child in pregnancy. Not able to conjure a proper burial due to the circumstances of their condition, they disposed the infant’s corpse down a nearby river. This act symbolizes when Moses was sent down the Nile in the bible and to later grow into a leader who supports the slaves of Egypt revolt against their powerful superiors. This relates to the novel because Rose is still capable of breast-feeding their dying neighbors. After all the loss the family has endured, they are still fighting for a better future, which sparks a light of hope for one to occur. Studs Lonigan and The Grapes of Wrath both have the underlying meaning of a hopeful future behind the lines of their stories, but portray them in completely different manners. Also, in the novel Call of the Wild by Jack London, a dog named Buck experiences the hardships of unfortunately stupid masters. Throughout the plotline of the story, Buck is harshly beaten, working as a sled dog in a territory completely new to him. This novel is perhaps the biggest differ in the use of naturalism from its odd perspective of the main character: an animal. Steinbeck and Farrell use realistic fiction to convey the ultimate meaning of the story to its readers while London’s work displays an obviously fictitious story of the trying times of a dog. However, this main character fights to survive no more than the characters of the other novels mentioned do. Most of all, Buck discovers a new, hopeful future in the wilderness he has finally become accustomed to. When Buck was sitting by John Thorton, Buck’s friendliest master yet, he receives dreams of running through forests with wolves of much earlier times. This “dreaming” is atavism, which is a trait that reappears thousands of generations through time. Buck realizes the wild was where he belongs and escaped to the wilderness with his fellow ancestors, the wolves. In these actions, Buck has the chance of a better and brighter future than that of the one he experienced. Jack London differs greatly form the other authors through his scientific viewpoint instead of the realistic one shown in the other naturalistic novels. But in the end, he ultimately sums up his novel with the same use of hopefulness for a better future as Steinbeck and Farrell; he just utilizes a different approach.

A sign of beauty that most of humanity chooses to ignore.

At the time of the Depression, James T. Farrell influenced many American citizens through writing novels about the repugnant poverty in humanity, which considerably influenced the literary movement of naturalism on others of the time Naturalism is a form of reality in which people unconsciously choose disregard or not believe. Humanity puts itself at the top of the pyramid, thinking that the best will never be touched. This is partly due to the unequal rights amongst humans themselves. When a chain of unfortunate events prevails over them, they search for an answer as to why. Many of the naturalist authors of time explain the why to this particular question: there is no reason! Through pure, scientific fact and realism, naturalism buries deep between the lines of a tragic story, appearing to the reader only when the main character of the story has a small hope or sudden realization that proceeds to a bigger picture set apart from the novel; there is always room for improvement. Once the readers see the acts of humanity, ruthless or hospitable, they find a sense of equality among the human race. Science explains for the that there is not one difference in ethnicity or religious person and during times of frugality in which the authors explain seamlessly, the questions and self-made definitions as to why tend to evaporate. They find that everything was not meant to have a secure definition, or a question for every occurrence. They find that everything is simply natural.

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