Realists/Naturalists in Literature: Cather, Crane, Twain, and James

Essay by SpudfishUniversity, Bachelor's March 2002

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Emile Zola believed "the realists/naturalists consider that man cannot be separated from his surroundings, that he is completely by his clothes, his house, his city, and his country; and hence we shall not note a single phenomenon of his brain or heart without looking for the causes or the consequences of his surroundings." In many ways, this belief holds true in the writings of many American writers such as Willa Cather, Stephen Crane, Mark Twain, and Henry James. Throughout each of their works, these four points exposed to us by Zola, are incessantly observed.

Willa Cather's "Neighbour Rosicky" portrays the life of Mr. Rosicky, an old farmer who values his family and farm. During the beginning half of the story, Rosicky's doctor informs him his heart is not in the shape it used to be. He attributes this to the amount of time Rosicky spends in his fields, working as a farmer.

When Rosicky hears the news, he is immediately taken aback, trying to think of what he would do around the house without having the fields to work in. He expresses to the doctor that he does not think it is right for a man to be in the kitchen, saying his place is out in the field.

"How about shelling corn"

"Of course not!"

Rosicky considered with puckered brows.

"I can't make my heart go no longer'n it wants to, can I, Doctor Ed?" (Cather 1027)

The doctor is persistent, telling Rosicky that if he does not cut back on the hard labor, his heart will soon give out. Even with this information, it is hard for Rosicky to accept the fact that he will no longer be able to put in the hours he is accustomed to. This demonstrates the strong feelings Rosicky has for...