Date of Award

7-1-1987

Degree Type

Dissertation

University or Center

Atlanta University (AU)

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

English

First Advisor

Lucy C. Grigsby

Abstract

This dissertation is a study of twentieth-century American novels which can be used in a course by Kenyan and other East African students and teachers. The selected novels can be studied as models for exemplification of the most significant developments and trends in longer American narrative fiction in the period covered by the study. Because of time limits and for purposes of presenting quality fictional works to be covered in one semester, eight novels were analyzed in this study. These are: Sister Carrie (1900) by Theodore Dreiser, The Great Gatsby (1925) by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Sun Also Rises (1926) by Ernest Hemingway, intruder in the Dust (1948) by William Faulkner, The Catcher in the Rye (1951) by J. D. Salinger, Invisible Man (1952) by Ralph Ellison, Go Tell It On The Moutain (1953) by James Baldwin and Brown Girl. Brownstones (1959) by Paule Marshall.

Each of the selected novels represents a component of significance in American literature during the era designated. Sister Carrie's strengths lie in its reflection of American life as affected by industrialization and consequent urbanization. The Great Gatsby and The Sun Also Rises vividly present significant themes of the First World 1 War's 111 effects on some Americans and others. Intruder in the Dust examines tensions created by racial discrimination in the Southern United States. The Catcher in the Rye treats the theme of adolescence eloquently. Go Tell It on the Mountain vividly presents Baldwin's view of the damange that racial prejudice inflicts on both blacks and whites. Invisible Man is a powerful presentation of the black experience in the United States. Brown Girl, Brownstones vividly treats a range of subjects such as the crisis of adolescence, religion, poverty and the importance of tradition for the black American, to name but a few. In addition to other reasons, all were chosen because they are artistically significant literary works, some, for example, having won for their authors Pultizer prizes or other major literary awards. Of course each novel was chosen for various other reasons which are elaborated in the study, but the above-named are most important.

In addition to those fundamental themes, which provide the focuses in analyzing each of the novels, the dissertation assembles specific types of information that teachers would find essential to furnish their students by way of introduction to and as the basis for study of the novels. Some of this material is for teacher-development, providing instructors kind of information that would give shape to their teaching of the course. The study also provides an organizational framework within which the course would be designed.

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