Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Analysis of "Spoon River Anthology"

"Spoon River Anthology" is a story written by Edgar Lee Masters about Spoon River, a cemetery in central Illinois(Masters). Within this story, Masters writes from many different points of view from many different characters(Masters). This story would be considered to be a regionalism work of literature simply because of the effect that culture of Illinois and the Midwest have on the story and the society within it(Anderson). Since Masters writes this story through the monologues of many different types of people,the culture of Illinois is very well established from the beginning for the reader to the point where he or she can easily relate to the characters in the story and their routines, beliefs, and culture(Anderson). Since the story is written through the points of view of many people about the same subject, it is very easy for the reader to recognize the bleak and somewhat neutral dialect of Illinois. For example, compared to other regions of the nation or other areas, such as the South or the West, the Midwest has a very light, and somewhat uninteresting dialect. Even though this may be the case within the story, it actually helps readers understand or grasp the story because the light accent makes the language so common and free flowing. This is very important to regionalism writers because when the realism period came around and the romanticism period ended, not only were author extremely focused on trying to write a story that would interest reader and that they would enjoy, but also, they tried to make their stories very easy to relate to be people of a certain region(Anderson). Because the Midwestern accent is so very light, and not very distorting of the common English language, this story is very easy to grasp, and therefore the purpose and insights of the story can be understood by all of its readers. For example, "His characters speak of guilt and loneliness, of the disappointments and thwarted ambitions caused by parenthood, insufficient talent, and bad luck, of the grief of loss and the pain of betrayal, and of the misery inflicted by small-mindedness, bigotry, and misunderstanding. More than anything, though, Masters' characters seek to tell the truth about their lives(Masters)." From this quote, it is very easy to see how this story is easy to understand and also how the dialect of the Midwest is so light. For example, in the above quote, there are no distorted words or phrases due to the dialect of the region in which this story by Masters takes place. Therefore, it is very easy to understand and all readers should be able to understand the purpose of the story through its clarity. This story would fall into the category of Realist because from the above quote it is also very easy to see that realism is supposed to show life as it truly is(Werlock). Because the quote above gives concepts that even today people in society must face making, this topic and story very real and easy to believe.

Anderson, George P., Judith S. Baughman, Matthew J. Bruccoli, and Carl Rollyson, eds."regionalism." Encyclopedia of American Literature: Into the Modern: 1896–1945, vol. 3, Revised Edition. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2008. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. Online. EAmL1330&SingleRecord=True. February 13, 2011.(Werlock)

Masters, Edgar Lee. "Spoon Rivers Anthology." Bartleby: Great Books Online. 2011. Online. February 13, 2011.

Werlock, Abby H. P. "realism." The Facts On File Companion to the American Short Story, Second Edition. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2009. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. Feb 13, 2011.

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