AMERICAN REALISM
1865-1910
Objectives/Goals for this Unit
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RL 11.1: Cite strong and thorough evidence to
support analysis of what the text specifically says as
well as inferences
RI 11.2: Determine two or more central ideas of a text
and analyze their development over a text.
RL 11.3: Analyze the impact of the author’s choices
regarding how to develop and relate elements of a
story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the
action is ordered, how the characters are introduced
and developed).
RL 11.6: Assess how point of view or purpose shapes
the context and style of a text
Objectives cont.
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RI 11.3: Analyze a complex set of ideas or
sequence of events – and explain how
specific individuals, ideas, or events
interact and develop – cause/effect,
definition?, problem/cause, etc.
RI 11.6. Determine an author’s point of
view or purpose in a text in which the
rhetoric is effective. Analyze style and
content for power, persuasion, and/or
beauty.
Lit Terms for Unit
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Author’s Point of
view
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Purpose
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The author’s point of
view is his feeling,
opinion, or belief about
his topic (different from
narrator POV).
The author’s purpose
(a.k.a., author’s intent)
is his reason for
writing. - entertain,
persuade,
inform/educate,
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Central idea
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Author’s Choices
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Author’s Style
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The central idea is like a
thesis statement in an
essay; it is a statement of
your main points.
author's deliberate
selection of stylistic
devices in order to present
his ideas
author's style - the choices
the author made regarding
diction, syntax, tone,
imagery, POV, etc.
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Diction
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Deliberate
choice of words
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Syntax
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Sentence
structure of a
text.
HISTORY
The years following the Civil
War symbolized a time of
healing and rebuilding.
 In literary circles, however, this
time period is full of upheaval
and struggle.
 A literary civil war raged
between the Romantics, the
Realists, and the Naturalists.
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More History
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The industrial revolution took place
at the end of the 19th century and
changed the country in many ways.
People left the country and went to
the city to live.
With new machinery and equipment,
the economy focused on factories.
Farming was no longer relied on so
heavily.
The immigration boom occurred.
People worldwide flocked to the USA.
Characteristics of Realism Literature
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Setting, Tone,
and Motifs
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Characterization
and Theme
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They drew on the grim
realities of life in poor
urban areas, bleak,
despairing tones, and
motifs about the
breakdown of traditional
values.
characters were ordinary,
everyday people. Plot
was about everyday
existence. Themes on the
complexities of the
human experience.
Literary Wars
Verbal wars were waged over
the ways that fictional
characters were presented in
relation to their external world.
 Using plot and character
development, a writer stated
his/her philosophy about how
much control mankind has over
his destiny
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American Realists vs.
American Naturalists
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American realists
believed that
humanity’s
freedom of choice
was limited by the
power of outside
forces.
A person has
choices and some
freewill, but
environment and
others can hamper
those choices
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American
naturalists
supported the
determinism
movement.
They argued that
individuals have no
choice because a
person’s life was
dictated by
heredity and the
external
environment.
Realism vs. Naturalism
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Realism – stories
present the world as
it really is (like a
photo)
Plots drawn from
details of everyday
life and uses dialect
Focus on central
character (plain
everyday people)
who deals with a
moral struggle
Usually internal
struggle
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Naturalism is
outgrowth of Realism.
Presents world like a
photo and uses dialect
Not as interested in
individual struggle, but
larger forces that
control people (war,
poverty,
slavery,environment)
More likely to deal with
the extraordinary
Grim tone
HOW THE GENRES PORTRAYED
THEIR CHARACTERS
Romantics – a god
 Realists – simply a person
 Naturalists – a helpless object
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Regionalism
Their writing was regional,
emphasizing specific geographic
settings and made use of the
speech and manners of the
people that live in that region.
 In the face of modernization,
people feared the loss of
traditions and folk ways, so
writers set their stories in
specific American regions.
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