Naturalism & Modernism: Norris / Crane / London / Washington / Du Bois

Norris – Reading and Review Questions:

  1. In “A Plea for Romantic Fiction,” what does Norris suggest as a “vigorous, healthy, wholesome” substitute for the “tawdry love literature” of the day?

Crane – Reading and Review Questions:

  1. Trace the features of Naturalism in “The Open Boat.”
  2. Why is Billie the Oiler the only man named in the “The Open Boat”?
  3. In “The Open Boat,” why does the correspondent come to the conclusion that being in the open boat and trying to survive the shipwreck, in spite of all the horrors it brings, was the best experience of his life?
  4. In “The Open Boat,” what does the correspondent mean when he wants to throw bricks at the temple and discovers there are no bricks and no temples?
  5. How is nature characterized in “The Open Boat”?
  6. What does the last line in “The Open Boat” mean, the last line being when the survivors, after hearing “the great sea’s voice,” feel that they can be “interpreters.”

London – Reading and Review Questions:

  1. Pay close attention to the imagery London uses to describe his Yukon setting. Do human beings belong here?
  2. In venturing out into the cold with only a dog, what is the man struggling against?
  3. As London’s story progresses, he continually invites the reader to contrast the unnamed man with the “proper wolf-dog” that is his companion. What do these comparisons show us about the man, the dog, and their relationships to their environment and each other?

Washington – Reading and Review Questions:

  1. In his opening chapter, what examples does Washington give of harmonious race relations under slavery?
  2. Washington tells the story of a former slave who, after Emancipation, travelled back to the South to finish paying his former owner for his freedom. What is the purpose of this story?
  3. Washington’s Exposition address in chapter fourteen is often called the “Atlanta Compromise” speech because in it Washington calls for greater economic and educational opportunities for African Americans while also supporting the policy of racial segregation. Other black leaders and intellectuals such as W. E. B. Du Bois, who demanded full equality between the races, criticized Washington’s compromise in the years following his famous address for being too politically timid. How does Washington craft his Exposition Address to allay the fears of his white audience while simultaneously making a persuasive case that African Americans merit more educational support and economic opportunity?

Du Bois – Reading and Review Questions:

  1. Why does Du Bois include the musical bars at the beginning of each chapter?
  2. How does Du Bois’s essay, “Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others” differ from Washington’s “Atlanta Exposition”?


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American Literatures After 1865 Copyright © by Scott D. Peterson; Amy Berke; Robert Bleil; Jordan Cofer; and Doug Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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