Disenchanting the American dream : the interplay of spatial and social mobility through narrative dynamic in Fitzgerald, Steinbeck and Wolfe

Theron, Cleo Beth (2013-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis focuses on the long-established interrelation between spatial and social mobility in the American context, the result of the westward movement across the frontier that was seen as being attended by the promise of improving one’s social standing – the essence of the American Dream. The focal texts are F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925), John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath (1939) and Thomas Wolfe’s You Can’t Go Home Again (1940), journey narratives that all present geographical relocation as necessary for social progression. In discussing the novels’ depictions of the itinerant characters’ attempts at attaining the American Dream, my study draws on Peter Brooks’s theory of narrative dynamic, a theory which contends that the plotting operation is a dynamic one that propels the narrative forward toward resolution, eliciting meanings through temporal progression. This thesis seeks to analyse the relation between mobility and narrative by applying Brooks’s theory, which is primarily consolidated by means of nineteenth-century texts, to the modernist moment. It considers these journey narratives in view of new technological developments and economic conditions, underpinned by the process of globalisation, that impact upon mobility.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie tesis konsentreer op die onderlinge verband tussen ruimtelike en sosiale mobiliteit in die Amerikaanse konteks, synde die gevolg van die weswaartse beweging oor grense en grondgebiede heen wat oënskynlik aangevuur was deur die belofte van ’n beter sosiale stand – die kern van die Amerikaanse Droom. Die soeklig val in die besonder op F. Scott Fitzgerald se The Great Gatsby (1925), John Steinbeck se The Grapes of Wrath (1939) en Thomas Wolfe se You Can’t Go Home Again (1940), welke drie reisverhale almal geografiese hervestiging as ’n vereiste vir sosiale vooruitgang voorhou. In die bespreking van hoe dié romans die rondreisende karakters se strewe na die Amerikaanse Droom uitbeeld, put my studie uit Peter Brooks se teorie van narratiewe dinamiek, wat aanvoer dat die intrigefunksie dinamies is en die verhaal voortstu na ontknoping, terwyl dit deur middel van temporele progressie betekenis ontsluit. Hierdie tesis ontleed die verhouding tussen mobiliteit en die narratief deur Brooks se teorie, wat hy hoofsaaklik deur interpretasie van 19de-eeuse tekste gevorm het, op die modernistiese tydsgewrig toe te pas. Dit besin dus oor hierdie reisverhale teen die agtergrond van nuwe, globalisasie-gegronde tegnologiese ontwikkelings en ekonomiese omstandighede wat mobiliteit beïnvloed.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/80374
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