By Michael Spindler
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Additional info for American Literature and Social Change: William Dean Howells to Arthur Miller
For could not they also be seen as the aggressive monuments of those vague, impersonal powers which seemed to rule his life? A common response to this reification on a grand scale at the The Literary Response (i) 41 tum of the century was to consider the individual as drained of any significance and the swarming city as possessing a kind of autonomous life . Thus Carrie, on arriving in Chicago and looking for work , experiences 'a sense of helplessness amid so much evidence of power and force which she did not understand.
You are dealing with forces, young man,' he tells Presley, 'when you speak of wheat and the railroads , not with men', and he emphasises his point, 'The wheat is one force, the 44 The Production-Oriented Phase railroad another, and there is the law that governs them - supply and demand. ' During the course of his argument the entrepreneur conflates the 'wheat' as growing plant with the 'wheat' as sector of the agricultural economy and then identifies it as belonging to the same order as the economic power of the railroad.
Thus Carrie, on arriving in Chicago and looking for work , experiences 'a sense of helplessness amid so much evidence of power and force which she did not understand. These vast buildings, what were they? ' This indifference attributed to the metropolis strongly echoes the vast indifference of nature that Norris emphasised in his previous novel , The Octopus, and it was part of the mystification embodied by the Naturalists in their writings that the historical and socially produced conditions of alienation and cruelty in the city should be regarded as natural ones .
American Literature and Social Change: William Dean Howells to Arthur Miller by Michael Spindler