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Extra resources for American Literature and Social Change: William Dean Howells to Arthur Miller

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10 While Therese Raquin charts the triumph of the laws of physical nature, the later Germinal (1885), taking class conflict as its theme, demonstrates the crushing effect of inhuman conditions and circumstances upon the miners of Montsou . Norris in particular was influenced by Zola , and his McTeague (1899) was the first fully -fledged American Naturalist novel. Like his later Vandover and the Brute (posthumously published in 1914), it deals with the subject of 'the animal within' and the irresistible compulsion of inner physical drives .

The history of Darwinian individualism', Richard Hofstadter concludes in his survey of the intellectual movement , ' . . v' Throughout childhood and adolescence a person is socialised by means of family, school, religion and the media into the be haviour to which he must conform and the socially acceptable goals after which he must strive. The system of values maintained by a society, therefore, has a profound effect upon the character of the individuals composing that society, since the economic system and the traditions out of which it has grown largely define the behaviour and goals which are approved.

The Social-Darwinian and Naturalist insistence on a mechanomaterialist nature as a paradigm for society was part of a production mentality, reflecting the society's dependence upon the genuine forces of nature during the production-oriented phase for the harnessing of energy and the transformation of raw materials into commodities. This 'natu re' was less the concrete, richly variegated nature that the early settlers experienced than an abstract, theoretical nature made up of scientific laws and forces .

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