The postmodern literature in America

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Postmodern Literature in America

Postmodern literature in America is a diversified discipline distinguished by a fundamental dependence on numerous narrative strategies such as paradox, fragmentation, and the unreliable narrator phenomenon, all of which emerge in the post-World War II era. Postmodern literature responds to modernist ideas and enlightenment thought in writing as a dogmatic form (Boyagoda 32). Indeed, postmodern literature, like postmodernism, constituted a new phase that defied categorizing literature as a movement. Both deconstructionist techniques and reader response hypotheses are key components of critical theory, which defines postmodern literature to a great extent. Indeed, postmodern literature expressly argues how the American literature provides valuable and rich source material for understanding aspects of American history and culture from World War II to the present. Particular writers like Toni Morrison, Arthur Asher Miller, Randall Jarrell, Sandra Cisneros, and Elizabeth Bishop who towered high above their contemporaries in the field. These authors are very instrumental in their works, and judging by how they responded in their literary works to historical, cultural and personal events, they portray a multifaceted picture of a new phase of a post-war America since the late 1940s (Lyotard 44). It is not only important to discuss how these writers have shown a representative of recurring themes in American literature written after World War II, and used their literary works to show the growing diversity of American literature from the end of World War II to the present, but also vital to cite practical evidence that confirms they are significant examples of postmodern literature.

Toni Morrison: A Renowned American Novelist

Toni Morrison is a renowned American teacher, novelist, and editor who used her art to inflict change in society. Morrison broadly discusses the concepts of culture, American black history, language, and diversity. She has been renowned for and to date remains conspicuous as a famous critic of cultural diversity in the American background. Morrison has received many awards for literature owing to her excellent works (Young 16). Some of the awards she won include the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for the American Book Award, the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature among others. Recitatif is one such piece produced by Toni Morrison and was published in 1983 (Young 121). There were intense racial-based movements at the time of the production of this piece and Morrison took it upon herself to put up a racial debate in writing. This is one of the many examples of how specific Morrison responded in her literary works to historical, cultural and personal events. The theme of a social movement, for instance, is a post-world War II phenomena in America which Morrison critically brings out in Recitatif. There exists a huge debate regarding the races of Twyla and Roberta (Fultz 22). Neither of these two characters can be characterized as Caucasian nor African Americans. Indeed, through the person of Morrison, her audience learns of how Postmodern American literature provides important and rich source material for understanding aspects of American history and culture from World War II to the present. Recitatif not only describes the various stereotypes that occurred in the US after the Second World War but promotes a culture of racial tolerance (Young 98), Elements which are representative of recurring themes in American literature written after World War II.

The American Dream: Arthur Asher Miller

The American dream is founded on the common understanding that all persons, regardless of their races, nationality, culture, beliefs, or traditions, can always make it in their lives as successful and influential individuals of social importance, provided they put the effort in whatever they do to deliver their goals. The dusk of WWII ushered in the dawn of the American Dream, and one Arthur Asher Miller, a renowned essayist, author, playwright, and a conspicuous figure in the American theater published numerous pieces after this Great War to ratify the theme. The Death of a Salesman is one of the notable pieces of literature that this author is known for (Chansky 227). This play, released in 1949 is a true depiction of the activities that went on after the world war at the time when most economies were striving to regain their economic strengths. The Death of a Salesman is an essential representation of the American Dream. Postmodern American literature provides valuable and rich source material for understanding aspects of American history and culture from World War II to the present, as is shown in the theme of the American dream through some of the main characters including Loman, Uncle Ben, and Biff in the Death of a Salesman. Loman dreams of being successful like Dave Singleman and hopes that his son will carry on with this idea (Chansky 228). However, Biff declines to follow Loman's dream after seeing his real identity. Uncle Ben, on the other hand, is a typical believer in the American dream and believes that its principal intention is to catch the opportunity, gain a fortune, and to concur nature. The characters created by the author in his work is a phenomenal manifestation of how the American culture and history are diverse while pulling through time decades to show the evolving world. Arthur Asher Miller In his work presents how his efforts show the growing diversity of American literature from the culmination of World War II to the present.

The Theme of World War II: Randall Jarrell

In American postmodern literature, the theme of World War II is intensively and extensively discussed. WWII was one of the greatest warfare events that the world faced with many alliances forming and ending with the rapid destruction of Japan. In his poems, Randall Jarrell was keen on noting the events of the war and produced a brief but concise poem entitled "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner" (Thomas 66). This poem was published during the ending times of the world's deadliest War and described the events surrounding the demise of a gunner in a Sperry ball turret. His diversity in language shows the clear difference between the past and the present, which he connotes as an all in one episode when earmarked against the theme of the Second World War. The postmodern literature concepts that rise against the dogmatic movements of the modern writers are evident. The theme of war is predominant in this five-line poem by Randall Jarrell. The poem topic in itself is a depiction of the war whereby gunners in the aircraft are fighters in these combats (Thomas 33). The poet mentions the "black flak and the nightmare fighters" who woke him up. Lastly, this poet mentions death as a result of the warfare. This is a clear manifestation of how Randall Jarrell uses his literary works to historical, cultural, and personal events.

Multiculturalism and Globalization: Sandra Cisneros

Multiculturalism has considerably been influenced by globalization. Individuals from different cultures live in various regions and unite with their colleagues from diverse origins. Globalization is a multifaceted term whose meaning has been evolving across millennia. Essentially, the process of international integration pertinent to the worldviews, ideas, products, as well as other aspects of culture defines globalization. Globalization does not only involve the integration of investment, international trade, and information technology but also directly affects the culture, environment, economic systems, political establishments, as well as the physical well-being of humanity and prosperity in the world. Sandra Cisneros, a Mexican American novelist, experienced cultural changes and cultural hybridity (Wilson and Vaz 115). Cisneros' "Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories" was published in 1991 where she gave detailed accounts of the experiences faced by the individuals of the feminine gender striving to merge two or more cultures. "Woman Hollering Creek" by Sandra Cisneros focuses on the social roles played by women in their marriages (Wilson and Vaz 21). The story concentrates on Cleófilas, a Mexican wife who had no lady figure in her life and was forced to watch telenovelas to learn the art of being a woman. This is a show of how critical Sandra Cisneros and her contemporaries in this essay stand out as the best among equals who best mirror the postmodern literature, its significance then, and its meaning in the modern world. It is not about America or the West, nor is it in Africa or Europe, rather, it is about the whole world. The culture of the communities around the world is a reflection of each other due to globalization and its effects. The theme of multiculturalism is manifest in Cleófilas' marriage when she finds no family or community to give her support. This tale describes the naivety of women and machismo of men.

Fear, Paranoia, Despair, and Anxiety: Elizabeth Bishop

Among the many concepts that emerge as central themes of discussion in postmodern literature, the subject of fear, paranoia, despair, and anxiety is well presented by Elizabeth Bishop, a great poet, consultant, and story writer, who was a renowned and respected figure in American Literature (Boyagoda 78). Bishop wrote most of her poems after World War II, and these literary pieces focused on the social welfare of American citizens. "One Art" is Bishop's most famous piece where she discussed the art of losing and how different persons perceive it. There was intense anxiety, fear, and despair at the time when "One Art" was published as most Americans did not attain their goals. Consequently, Elizabeth Bishop wrote a piece that would enhance logic. Many people fear losing things in life, including love, and have paranoia when they lose the basic privileges offered by life (Boyagoda 136). However, Elizabeth's piece demonstrates the theme of despair as it offers no comforting sentiments to those who have lost. Sadness and anxiety are the ultimate consequences of any loss. Indeed, this is in phase with the postwar era, a period characterized by a torn society, without coherence in political, social, economic, industrial, technological, or religious domains. Nevertheless, despite the loss of the second world war, through Elizabeth Bishop, her audience is capable of appreciating that there is still room for bouncing back to a better world, full of factors that foster the thriving of human life, social, cultural, political, and economic diversity notwithstanding, hence the suitability of Elizabeth Bishop as one among the best of the postmodern literature artists.

The Diversity of American Literature after World War II

The concepts argued out by the five writers vividly and explicitly give a picture of the history of America and the rest of the world after World War II. Diversity in culture and the uniqueness that characterizes the people from the eighteenth century and beyond into the twentieth century is expressed. Indeed, the authors outline personal examples in their literary works to cite particular examples in society that influenced the rebirth of the postmodern literature through phenomenal individual events. The writers and their respective works are representative of recurring themes in American literature written after World War II. Indeed, these writers and their literary works show the growing diversity of American literature from the culmination of World War II to the present. Hence, the reason as to why these authors are the best selection for the textbook.

Works Cited

Boyagoda, Anna. “‘Being There Together’: Representations of Community in the Poetry of Eric Roach, Derek Walcott, Wallace Stevens and Elizabeth Bishop.” N.p., 2010. Web.

Chansky, D. “Arthur Miller’s America: Theatre and Culture in a Time of Change.” Theatre Research International 32.2 (2007): 227–228. Web.

Lyotard, JF. “The Cambridge Introduction to Postmodern Fiction.” The Postmoder Condition A Report on Knowledge. N.p., 2009. xxiii–xxv. Web.

Thomas, Joseph T. “‘ Levels and Opposites ’ in Randaà ± Jarrell â€TM S The Bat-Poet.” 4.1 (2002): 1–90. Web.

Wilson, Sharon K, and Pelgy Vaz. “Women without a Voice: The Paradox of Silence in the Works of Sandra Cisneros, Shashi Deshpande and Azar Nafisi.” Ethnic Studies Review 33.1 (2010): 158–VI. Web.

Young, John. “Toni Morrison, Oprah Winfrey, and Postmodern Popular Audiences.” African American Review 35.2 (2001): 181. Web.

May 24, 2023

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