Guide to Week 4: Thursday
We will discuss thoroughly ways to apply Marxist critical methods to "Soldiers," and at the end, we can try out some Marxist methods on some of the other texts you are reading in literature classes. You will write your "Working with" assignment on "Cat in the Rain" and its "interchapter" marked "X" (Roman numeral for "10"). Remember that Marxist theory teaches us to look for sources of mental behavior, and what characters say and do, in the historical situation and material circumstances in which they live, rather than in repressed psychological events from their past existence. Think about the historical situation in which the narrative is set and the effect it may have on social relations among the characters. Think about the commercial situation in which characters find themselves, including the "economy" of the household or relationship. Which characters have the power to command and which characters obey, and from what socio-economic sources do those powers and obedience derive?
Note that Marxist interpretation allows, indeed encourages the analyst to research the culture and era in which a work of literature is set. For reference sake, the collection was published in 1925 and the events in "Soldiers Home" must have taken place in midwestern America before 1923-4 when Hemingway was writing. When you prepare to write about "Cat in the Rain," your era is the same, but the culture is Italy in the same period. Trust me when I tell you that the historical situation and material circumstances were vastly different in Italy than they were in America during this period. Click here for a list of terms of art and processes necessary to applications of Marxist interpretive methods.
Useful Web Sites
Class in America: Nick's and Tom's relative economic status and what Fitzgerald is trying to tell us about the sheer excess of Tom's lifestyle
Titles Communicate Theory: Can You Tell Which Theories These Articles Use?