What We Are & Who We Should Be: Literary Realism

1132 WordsJun 18, 20185 Pages
“True realism consists in revealing the surprising things which habit keeps covered and prevents us from seeing.” This quote by Jean Cocteau provides an accurate summary of realism in American literature. Authors such as Raymond Carver and William Faulkner strived to expose their readers to defects, either internal or external. Their literature puts humanity under the microscope, and allows the reader to examine their daily life from a safe distance. Under examination, many shortcomings can be uncovered. Occasionally, an author will not only reveal these flaws, but provide a practical solution. More often than not though, realists will leave it up to their reader to formulate a cure. In A Rose for Emily, Faulkner looks back on the…show more content…
Klein supports this point, stating, “The difficulty is that so much of what the story claims “we said” or “we learned” reflects the incoherence (and cruelty) of group thought.” (Klein 230) The inarticulate nature of groupthink is a defect present in many societies. Despite clearly exhibiting a concern about these issues, Faulkner does little more than expose these perceived defects of society. A solution is not offered. The behavioral patterns of codependency are almost impossible to correct, and gossip will persist in societies for years to come. Emily’s death was her escape from these personal and societal shortcomings. Faulkner is suggesting that death is the only way to rid ourselves of certain defects. Fortunately, not every writer is as bleak in their outlook on society as Faulkner. Raymond Carver addresses the ever-present issue of stereotyping in his short story, Cathedral. Before the narrator meets his wife’s blind friend for the first time, he imagines what it will be like having a blind man in his home. He remarks, “And his being blind bothered me. My idea of blindness came from the movies. In the movies, the blind moved slowly and never laughed. Sometimes they were led by seeing eye dogs. A blind man in my house was not something I looked forward to.” (Carver 84) Regardless of the fact his wife loves the blind man dearly, the narrator is poised to enter the situation with a negative mindset, simply because of an image adopted from the
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