29 May, 2011

American Lit- Naturalism

Realism and Naturalism 
            Many naturalistic works demonstrate the problems when capitalism is allowed to run ramped in a society. Naturalistic books take good, moral, and just characters; puts them through a series of events which are out of their control. The end result is a character which the reader empathies with even though, the reader wouldn’t like what the character has become. This happens in Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. Sinclair takes a realistic approach when looking at his world and sees this uncontrollable force called capitalism. By showing the middle class readers part of ordinary lives that would shock and awe them these Sinclair is able to effect change.
            In The Jungle, Upton Sinclair’s original goal is to expose the improper treatment of immigrant workers and child labor by paying them wages that do not allow for survival. Sinclair uses the main character Jugis Rudkus, a Lithuanian immigrant, to show how capitalism takes advantage of the poor and uses them as extremely cheap labor without regard for their welfare. In many ways the conditions Sinclair describes are cheaper labor then slavery. This is described in the book as “There is one kind of prison where the man is behind bars, and everything that he desires is outside; and there is another kind where things are behind bars, and the man is outside.” (Sinclair pg. 337) Rather than being enslaved and behind bars Jugis and his family are on the outside of the bars where things such as food, medicine, and shelter are one the inside, just out of reach. 
            At the begging of the book Jugis is an enthusiastic, bright eyed, young man who is eager to live and work in America. He believed in America, “rich or poor, a man was free, it was said; … he did not have to pay out his money to rascally officials, --he might do as he pleased, and count himself as good as any other man.” (Sinclair pg. 23) With this being his idea of America Jugis brought his family of twelve (six adults and six children) in all to Chicago. Eventually this uncontrollable force of capitalism had Jugis working in the Stockyards of Chicago at a meat packing plant. Jugis’s job does not pay him enough and other members of his family are required to procure employment as well. The family then undergoes a series of unfortunate events that result in their suffering and death, all because of the uncontrollable force called capitalism.
            His father, Dede Antanas, is one of the first family members to step up and help provide for the family. Dede is so old that he ends up having to pay a man one third of his wages in return for a job. This job is so unsanitary and unsafe that Dede ends up dying of lung infection.
            Jugis’s wife, Ona, gets a job working for Phil Connor in a factory. She is constantly sexually harassed by him and he ends up raping her. Ona dies from blood loss during delivery of the child which is a result of Phil raping her. Phil is the representation and embodiment of everything that is wrong and corrupt with Chicago and capitalism.
After his wife dies his young son drowns in a muddy street while Jugis is at work. These two events and his overall failure to provide for his family, drive him to leave, his family, the city, everything. “They were beaten; they had lost the game, they were swept aside. It was not less tragic because it was so sordid, because that it had to do with wages and grocery bills and rents. They had dreamed of freedom; of a chance to look about them and learn something; to be decent and clean, to see their child group up to be strong. And now it was all gone-it would never be!” (Sinclair pg. 163) As a result of Jugis’s abandonment, Marija, Ona’s cousin becomes a prostitute to feed the remaining children. While at the brothel Marija, becomes addicted to morphine. These were a series of unfortunate events that had either resulted in the death of two children and three adults.
Jugis is arrested for a bar fight over change of a $100 bill and goes to jail. One of the great examples of how capitalism has effected Jurgis is when he prefers being in jail then out, and wishes they put his family in jail. “"They put him in a place where the snow could not beat in, where the cold could not eat through his bones; they brought him food and drink-why, in the name of heaven, if they must punish him, did they not put his family in jail and leave him outside-why could they find no better way to punish him than to leave three weak women and six helpless children to starve and freeze?” (Singclair pg. 191) While in jail he meets Jack who introduces Jugis to Chicago’s criminal underworld. Jugis becomes hired muscle and then goes back to the stockyards in hopes to get the union workers to vote for a republican candidate.
            Sinclair would claim these series of unfortunate events just explained can be all tied to capitalism out of control. If only those companies were not so greedy and paid Jugis a wage which he could live on none of these events would have happened. Sinclair then turns the coin when Jugis returns to the city and is working as a con-man. This is evidence that capitalism is this evil force that will corrupt and ruin all who try to profit. It will also take advantage of the poor and any who are innocent victims.
            In the end of the book Sinclair has, Jugis attending a political rally for the Socialists. The moment Jugis becomes a socialist things are finally becoming good for him. He becomes a porter at a hotel which is a social hotbed. He then returns to the children which capitalism had forced him to abandon. By the end of the book Sinclair has two characters becoming something that the reader would normally not empathize with; but because of the books naturalistic view point you feel sorry for Jurgis, the socialist, and Marija, the morphine addicted prostitute. The entire book is meant by Singclair to be a realistic example of how much capitalism is negative social effect, in the late 19th and early 20th century, America.
The book did not have the effect Sinclair wanted, Sinclair was hoping for reform with child labor, or fair wages. As a result of Sinclair’s novel there was a public outcry and “caused the Government investigation into the methods employed by the Beef Trust”. (Sinclair 2 pg. 3) The result of that investigation was within a few months of the book being published the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 were passed. Sinclair said this about the results of his book; “I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach.” (Wilson pg. 1) Many naturalistic books targeted capitalism as their uncontrollable force, yet few suggest other alternatives like Sinclair suggested socialism. Few Naturalistic books had the fast and swift reaction of the public and the Government. The book had such an impact that it was run as a long series in the “The Sun” a newspaper out of Tallahassee, Flordia. Although it was not the change Sinclair was hoping for he did achieve major change, through showing something that would shock and awe, the middle class.

Works Cited

Sinclair, Upton. The Jungle. New York, New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1906.
Sinclair 2, Upton. "The Jungle." The Sun 14 July 1906: Third.
Wilson, James C. The Heath Anthology of American LiteratureUpton Sinclair- Author Page. n.d. 19 March 2011 .

Twilight of the Saints Ch. 2

Twilight of the Saints: Ch 2. Civil Religion From The ancient Past to the Anxious Present
            The second chapter of Twilight of the Saints deals with the history of civil religion.  Beginning with the history of American Civil Religion, The Declaration of Independence.  G.K. Chesterton talks about how the Declaration lays out the “creed” of United States civil religion.  The chapter lays out the past nations which have had some form of civil religion, like Rome, and Greece.  It also lays out the history of America’s civil religion, how it became what it is today.  This chapter expands the boundaries of civil religion
What is Civil Religion
          This chapter uses the opinion of Rousseau to add to the understanding of civil religion.  Rousseau adds an idea of a social contract.  A Social contract is “the general will of the people expressed religiously in the life of the state with a benign but watchful deistic god to preside over the keeping of the public faith.”[1]  The general will of the people is found using reason, assuming that the Christian religion is true.  Civil religion is not a nation which possesses a state church as its religion.  Emile Durkheim said this about civil religion “a common religion is constitutive of the unity and character of every society.”[2]  Plato also confirmed the belief that “the essential conditions for achieving a just political order was the practice of citizens honoring the gods and their parents.”[3]
Civil Religion in Ancient Nations
          Rome and Greece are two ancient nations which both possessed civil religion.  These two nations both had a religion which every person embraced.  Rome was the main force when it came to influencing England which influenced America.  Rome was the first civilized nation that attempted to civilize the English.  Because of this development of the English by the Romans the English experienced the civil religion of the Romans.  The Romans first had a polytheistic religion but then the people began to worship the Emperor as god.  This idea was impressed upon the English, but they were also opened up to the Christian religion.  This Christian religion and the idea of a single person being in power remained.  The Romans also gave the English the idea of global conquest through colonization.  This is the reason why the Americas were established.
Civil Religion in England
            England has played a vital role in the development of America’s civil religion.  England has created a national church with much latitude making it almost a civil religion.  The most important idea which emerged from England was the idea of a state.  This is the idea of having an individual at the head of the country and a god to be next to the king.  This is when the phrase “For God and crown”[4] originated.  England also sent settlers to America who possessed this idea but wanted a different religion then the state church offered.  These settlers wanted “their outpost in the wilderness would be as a “city upon a hill”, a moral and political example to the entire world.”[5] John Foxe has inspired the idea that “England was God’s anointed vessel.”[6]
Civil Religion in Modern America
The American civil religion is the basis of the American dream “A third element in constructing the first American civil religion was some sort of religious consensus”[7]  The whole process creates  “but in the process, where the churches moved out the nation moved in.”[8]  The early civil religion was based on different ideals “evangelical-deistic ideals made up the early national faith.”[9]  In Americas now use civil religion as a blending tool for all immigrants.  America has “a nation with the soul of a church.”[10] This soul is nurtured by events like Memorial Day, “The Memorial Day celebration is an American sacred ceremony, a religious ritual, a modern cult of the dead.”[11]  America has created a nation which is beloved by a majority of its citizens, because of civil religion.  It is the sum of its major influences from Greece, to Rome and England.
          The Author does a very good job of presenting where Americas civil religion originates from.  As well as the key people or ideas which have influenced it along the way.  I personally did not like the references to some of the founding fathers being considered deists, on page 71.

[1] Robert D. Linder and Richard V. Pierard, Twilight of the Saints (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1978), 44
[2] Ibid 45
[3] Ibid 46
[4] Ibid 49
[5] Ibid 59
[6] Ibid 54
[7] Ibid 67       
[8] Ibid 66
[9] Ibid 71
[10] Ibid 74
[11] Ibid 62

Twilight of the Saints Ch. 1

Twilight of the saints:Effects of Civil Religion within America
            Robert D. Linder and Richard V. Pierard do an excellent job at the religious problem facing American Pop culture.  The chapter deals with defining civil religion directly with the United States.   This problem is one of pluralism.  The United States did not always have an unofficial religion of pluralism.  At one point in time the United States was a country based on the basic understanding of a supernatural entity.  Twilight of the Saints gives an account of the reason for falling down this slippery sloop of pluralism.  The authors give a defence for why Christians can save America and why it is too late.
One of the defences is the orgins of the Uniteds States.  Originally the United States was founded as a British colony.  The majority of the people populating these colonies were English Puritans.  These people held a dominant religion until the twentieth century.  “During the nineteenth century the country flourished on the principles of biblical Christanity”[1]  In the twentieth century the country underwent many changes and endured hardships.  This is due to the events like presidential assignations, Vietnam War, and two world wars to say the least.  Somewhere in all this Americans stopped practicing the civil religion which the immigrant puritans began.  The orgins of America are Christian but somewhere over the years we have strayed from the orgins.  “Upon Christian Principles as a holy experiment by people who had faith in Jesus Christ”[2]
Civil Religion is the use of consensus religious sentiments. This means when we use the national motto “In God We Trust” it is to further a certain political agenda.  The pluralism has become so bad, we the people of the United States, thought about removing this part of our heritage from the history books.  They like to compare their heritage to religious events in order to comply too civil religion.  “Our freedom from the course of sin cost God His only begotten son. Our American freedom cost our forefathers and it cost the men who signed the declaration. ”[3]
Many people within the United States believe the United States is the new Isreal.  In the Old Testament Israel was chosen by God to be his people.  People now are thinking that God has gone aginst his character and changed his nation of favor.  “We Americans are the peculiar, chosen people-the Israel of our time”[4]
Throughout the years each and every president has used God as a puppet to further their campaign.  Many candidates attend church and make sure video cameras are present.  Presidents use God and religious phrases in their speeches alongside patriotic phrases.  This is something which the American people have always had this and will continue to vote for the individuals who do it the best.  People want to see this because it really is both God and Country.  American people love their flag and will do anything to protect it.  Americans are disgusted when they see images of American flags being burned, when they are not aware if someone burned a cross on a churches front lawn.  Americans want their religious references to remain intact for future generations.
Because of the introduction of secularism the people have come close to abolishing “In God We Trust” and the line in the pledge of allegiance referring to God.  The church is standing idly by and watching this happen.  The church only does this because it thinks it is powerless to stop anything.  This is not true, but we should have acted when this book was written.  Unfortunately the pluralism has abolished the propose of the United States by removing God.   Now the people of the United States enjoy a purpose free nation and therefore they themselves are living purpose free lives.  This creates many people who are unhappy and discontent with life in general.  Our nation has lost it moral compass as well as its purpose. 

[1] 152
[2] 148
[3] 150
[4] 144

28 May, 2011


"To Say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, this is truth." -Aristotle

"It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it." -Gen. Douglas MacArthur

"War is not an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse.  The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable so by the exertions of better men than himself." -John Stuart Mills

"Ignorance, the root and the stem of every evil." -Plato

"What is life without honor?  Degradation is worse than death." - LTG Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson

"There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure." -Colin Powell

"A leader leads by example, not by force." -Sun Tzu

"The price of greatness is responsibility." -Sir Winston Churchill

"What a cruel thing is war; to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the face of this beautiful world." -Robert E. Lee (Letter to his wife 1864)

"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart." -Helen Keller

"To achieve greatness one should live as if they will never die." -Francois De La Rochefoucauld

"Captain, my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed.  God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me. That is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave." -Gods and Generals (Stonewall Jackson)

"There is many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory, but boys, it is all hell. You can bear this warning voice to generations. I look upon war with horror." -Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." -Sir Winston Churchill

"With courage you will dare to take risks, have the strength to be compassionate, and the wisdom to be humble. Courage is the foundation of integrity." -Keshavan Nair

"Ninety-nine percent of all failures come from people who have a habit of making excuses." -George Washington Carver

"You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself."- Jim Rohn

"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." -Benjamin Franklin

"The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire." -Field Marshal Ferinand Foch

"When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion." -Dale Camegie

"Without friends no one would choose to live though he had all other goods." -Aristotle

"Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly." -Robert F. Kennedy

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great." -Mark Twain

"When you set yourself on fire, people love to come and see you burn." -John Wesley

"Passion, though a bad regulator, is a powerful spring." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

"I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat." -Winston Churchill

"True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever costs." -Arthur Ashe

"Essential characteristics of a gentleman: the will to put himself in the place of others; the horror of forcing others into positions from which he would himself recoil; the power to do what seems to him to be right, without considering what others bay say or think." -John Galsworthy

"The test of any man lies in action." -Pindar

"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do." -Eleanor Roosevelt

"They fought together as brothers-in-arms. They died together and now they sleep side by side. TO them we have a solemn obligation." -George Washington

"Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live if this is all there is." -Mary Anne Radmacher

"Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem you own reputation; for 'tis better to be alone then in bad company." -George Washington

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." -Abraham Lincoln

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away." -anonyms

"There aren't any great men. There are just great challenges that ordinary men like you and me are forced by circumstances to meet." -ADM. William "Bull" F. Halsey

"Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it." -Colin Powell

"How can you govern a nation that has two hundred and forty-six different kinds of cheese?" -Charles De Gaulle

"Democracy is the worst system devised by the wit of man, except for all the others." -Winston Churchill

"It is amazing what you can accomplish if you don't care who gets the credit." -Harry S. Truman

"The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it." -Theodore Roosevelt

"Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity." -GEN. George S. Patton

"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." -Bill Cosby

"The most prominent place in hell is reserved for those who are neutral on the great issues of life." -REV. Billy Graham

"We may make mistakes - but they must never be mistakes which result from faintness of heart or abandonment of moral principle." -Franklin D. Roosevelt

"With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed. Consequently he who milds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions." -Abraham Lincoln

"Laziness may appear attractive, but work give satisfaction." -Anne Frank

"Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did." -Newt Gingrich

"Don't hit at all if it is honorably possible to avoid hitting; but never hit soft." -Theodore Roosevelt

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." -Lord Acton

"A man who enjoys responsibility usually gets it. A man who merely likes exercising authority usually loses it." -Malcolm S. Forbes

"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function." -F. Scott Fitzgerald

"Where there is no vision, the people perish." -Proverbs 29:18

"Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop brining you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or conclude you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership." -Colin Powell

"The administration of government, like a guardianship, ought to be directed to the good of those who confer, not of those who receive the trust." -Cicero

"We, the people, elect leaders not to rule but to serve." -Dwight D. Eisenhower

"In a democracy, a man who does not listen cannot lead." -David S. Broder

"The difference between a politician and a statesman is: a politician thinks of the next election and a statesman thinks of the next generation." -James Freeman Clarke

"I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers - and it was not there . . . in her fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there . . . in her rich mines and her vast world commerce - and it was not there . . . in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution - and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great." -Alexis De Tocqueville

"The road to hell is paved with initiative." -

"If you don't know what something is intended to be used for, you are destined to abuse it." -

27 May, 2011

West Wing Quotes

Bartlet: What's the virtue of the proportional response?
Admiral Fitzwallace: I'm sorry?
Bartlet: What is the virtue of a proportional response? Why's it good? They hit an airplane, so we hit a transmitter, right? That's a proportional response. They hit a barracks, so we hit two transmitters.
Admiral Fitzwallace: Yes, that's roughly it, sir.
Bartlet: This is what we do. I mean, this is what we do.
Leo: Yes sir, it's what we do. It's what we've always done.
Bartlet: Well, if it's what we do, if it's what we've always done, don't they know we're going to do it? I ask again, what is the virtue of a Proportional Response?
Admiral Fitzwallace: It isn't virtuous, Mr. President. It's all there is, sir.
Bartlet: It is not all there is.
Admiral Fitzwallace: Just what else is there?
Bartlet: The disproportional response. Let the word ring forth, from this time and this place, gentlemen, you kill an American, any American, we don't come back with a proportional response. We come back with total disaster! [He bangs the table]
General: Are you suggesting that we carpet-bomb Damascus?
Bartlet: I am suggesting, General, that you, and Admiral Fitzwallace, and Secretary Hutchinson, and the rest of the National Security Team take the next sixty minutes and put together an American response scenario that doesn't make me think we're just docking somebody's damn allowance!

Bartlet: Did you know that two thousand years ago a Roman citizen could walk across the face of the known world free of the fear of molestation? He could walk across the Earth unharmed, cloaked only in the protection of the words civis Romanus-- I am a Roman citizen. So great was the retribution of Rome, universally certain, should any harm befall even one of its citizens. Where was Morris's protection, or anybody else on that airplane? Where was the retribution for the families, and where is the warning to the rest of the world that Americans shall walk this Earth unharmed, lest the clenched fist of the most mighty military force in the history of mankind comes crashing down on your house?! In other words, Leo, what the hell are we doing here?!
Leo: We are behaving the way a superpower ought to behave.
Bartlet: Well our behavior has produced some crappy results, in fact I'm not a hundred per cent sure it hasn't induced it.
Leo: What are you talking about?
Bartlet: I'm talking about two hundred and eighty-six American marines in Beirut, I'm talking about Somalia, I'm talking aboutNairobi-
Leo: And you think ratcheting up the body count's gonna act as a deterrent?
Bartlet: You're damn right I-
Leo: Oh, then you are just as stupid as these guys who think capital punishment is going to be a deterrent for drug kingpins. As if drug kingpins didn't live their day to day lives under the possibility of execution, and their executions are a lot less dainty than ours and tend to take place without the bother and expense of due process. So, my friend, if you want to start using American military strength as the arm of the Lord, you can do that. We're the only superpower left. You can conquer the world, like Charlemagne! But you better be prepared to kill everyone. And you better start with me, because I will raise up an army against you and I will beat you!
Bartlet: He had a ten day old baby at home.
Leo: I know.
Bartlet: We are doing nothing.
Leo: We are not doing nothing.
Bartlet: We're destroying-
Leo: Four high-rated military targets!
Bartlet: And this is good?
Leo: Of course it's not good. There is no good. It's what there is! It's how you behave if you're the most powerful nation in the world. It's proportional, it's reasonable, it's responsible, it's merciful! It's not nothing. Four high-rated military targets.
Bartlet: Which they'll rebuild again in six months.
Leo: Then we'll blow 'em up again in six months! We're getting really good at it... It's what our fathers taught us.
Bartlet: Why didn't you say so? Oh, Leo...when I think of all the work you put in to get me to run and all the work you did to get me elected...I could pummel your ass with a baseball bat.

Bartlet: "We hold these truths to be self-evident," they said, "that all men are created equal." Strange as it may seem, that was the first time in history that anyone had ever bothered to write that down. Decisions are made by those who show up.

24 May, 2011

Origin of American Modernism

Defining the modernism of American Literature is difficult due to the amount of authors, and genres.  Modernism evolved from a combination of the genteel tradition and World War I, and a worldwide Spanish flu pandemic.  The modernistic movement eliminated the idea that that virtue produces good things.  This was directly as a result too the loss of life, that for many seemed to be meaningless.  The combination of  World War I and the Spanish Flu pandemic took so many lives that writers stopped believing in good always winning; they then took it to another level and stopped believing in good and evil all together. 
Modernism can be broadly traced to the period in-between wars; there were many historical events that took place during this time period which shaped the events and types of stories that were recorded.  During this time there was the roaring twenties, prohibition, the Harlem renaissance, great depression, and the roaring twenties are just a few of the major events that changed America in the period between the two great wars.  This time period of American history produced what Stein called the “Lost Generation”; it was this generation that produced much of the literately works known as modernism.  In order to understand American modernism you must understand the events which the writers lived through.
To modernistic writers there is no absolute truth, not everything has meaning. All of the writers lived through World War I and the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic in some way shape or form.  These two events did not leave anyone unaffected; these two events killed over three percent of the population worldwide.  Both of these events created very harsh and violent deaths, but were a worse on those who were left alive. The effect World War I had on modernism writers was not only the total causality count but the way in which warfare was so brutally conducted.  World War I was the first major implementation of the machine gun and chemical weapons.  John Dos Passos used the novel Three Soldiers to express the post war disillusionment, because although Americans returned home from war they could never regain their innocence.
The roaring twenties were at the beginning of the modernism movement, they were based on the large amounts of money that were in the United States as a result of the war.  During the roaring twenties many of these rebellious and disillusioned American writers were able to go live abroad and live wealthy on small amounts of money.  These writers such as, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Stein, Pound, would go to Europe and absorb the culture then return to the United States and share their experiences through their work.  During the twenties America became to love new technology, such as automobiles, and authors incorporated it into their writings.  Fitzgerald, expressed his frustration of the corruption of the American dream during the roaring twenties when businesses were encouraging excessive materialism.  
Many writers used their writing to search for meaning in life.  For example Hemingway used some of his writing to search for the meaning of life and why so many men had to die.  Not only did the population of the world devise systematic means of killing, but to add insult to injury at the end of the war the Spanish flu pandemic hit the world.  To these writers there was no reason that either of these events had to occur, and if there was a God of the Protestant tradition he would not allow so much death.  The result was the abandonment of virtue, and absolute truth.  The result was not only the death of the Protestant tradition but also of the Genteel tradition.  This all resulted in the breakdown of moral norms and cultural values, within the nation.
The Harlem renaissance allowed black writers to be recognized. Every writer in the modernistic movement was trying to write something new and these young writers had a unique story to tell.  During the modernism movement the black Americans were able to begin writing about their heritage, culture, and zeal for life.  For example, Langston Hughes incorporated blues rhythms into his poetry.  Zora Neale Hurston crossed two boundaries during this movement as a female and an African American; she incorporated black folk life into her work.
One of the other minority groups that contributed to the modernism movement in the period between the wars was women.  Some of the notable authors during this time period were Dorothy Parker, Amy Lowell, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Nella Larsen.  They expressed their thoughts and experiences of women; due to the independence that women felt during World War I they wanted permanent social and political change.  While their works are not as well-known as some of the male writers from the interwar period they effected great social change.  By 1920 in America women had the right to vote and were no longer being restricted to the role of women in the genteel tradition. 
The Great Depression followed the roaring twenties and Harlem renaissance; it was a delayed reaction to the global depression that followed World War I.  The Great Depression involved the entire nation, factories were closed, farms dried up, a third of the nation was out of work and standing in soup kitchen lines.  Steinbeck described the situation in the Midwest in Grapes of Wrath where farmers were leaving their farms to go to California. 
Modernism was a push for every writer to produce something new.  These writers wanted something new, something original, they created the world in the act of perceiving it.  During the roaring twenties literature and writings became more readily available to the average American due to technology.  This resulted in the desire to create something new, and original.  While they wanted to create something new and deviate from the norm, they didn’t completely run away from their history.  There was still a couple of remints of realism in modernism, the modernistic writers still enjoy focusing on the psychology and using their work of art as a coherent whole study.  They also depict events that are real to them, but less objectively than realism writers.
The key to understanding the Modernism is to understand the history which that generation of writers lived in.  Many of these key traumatic events occurred in the time between the two world wars.  These events included World War I, Spanish flu pandemic, roaring twenties, Harlem renaissance, women’s suffrage and the Great Depression.  These events created the expression of the unordered life, loss of tradition and virtue, the corruption of the American dream, the impact of traumatic events on the psyche of an individual and nation which we now categorize as modernism.