Definition Of Modernism In Fiction Essay

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Definition of Modernism in Fiction

Modernism, in literature, can be seen as a shift in focus to the unassociated introspective reflection of characters in such texts as Go Tell It On The Mountain, by James Baldwin, Miss Lonelyhearts, by Nathanael West and The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger. This is a revision from the previous focal point of exterior events and places in correlation with the character’s reflections. Emphasis is placed on review upon feelings and thoughts, and even conversations with oneself, as opposed to the more directly event-driven reflections in texts of the pre-modernist era.

This is not to say that texts of the modernist era have no events, or that their characters sit at home all day long thinking. Many
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It some modernist texts, including Catcher In The Rye, one can see many internal conflicts and much upheaval, without any certain outside events. For example, when Holden takes his sister, Phoebe, to the park, he watches her on the carousel, and the thoughts he ponders don’t appear to have any real connection with what is going on externally. Instead, the audience sees a part of what could be described as Holden’s emotional breakdown, "The thing with kids is, if they want to grab for the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and not say anything. If they fall off, they fall off…"(211). Although this is brought on by his watching Phoebe, his sudden realization seems to have little correlation. By the end of the book, one can tell that the person most likely to "fall off" is Holden.

This is not to imply that all modernist texts have characters who go off the deep end, though in a way, Miss Lonelyhearts does as well. Miss Lonelyhearts seems to go off on tangents that are somewhat unbelievable and often violent and horrid. For example, when he and his friends are in the bar, speaking to the old man, Miss Lonelyhearts suddenly feels, "as he had felt years before, when he accidentally stepped on a small frog. Its spilled guts had filled him with pity, but when it’s suffering had become read to his senses, the pity turned to rage…"(17). This recollection of times parts is very characteristic of modernists texts. The time

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